Friday, 23 October 2015

Packing Sucks

Last tour day today. We headed to Windsor Castle and although we made good time there were many tour groups in line before us and with the strict enter procedure it took a good twenty minutes before we gained entry. Glad we were not general public paying today as the queen was due back this pm and the palace closed at 12.00. We had a quick group photo before entry in and on advice from one of the guards saw the dolls house first well worth seeing. We then had an express tour thru the bulk of the castle and thanks to some serious pretty work from Trisha and David our tour guide we were allowed under the rope to view the casket up close. The palace guard turned the casket for us so all sides could be viewed which was brilliant. We had a speedy trip thru the rest of the castle and Cheryl adopted a corgi on the way out. We had an informative tour on the bus thru London  getting to the Museum of London for our final casket viewing. Unfortunately for them living up to the Windsor casket was never going to happening but the  curator had pulled some great samplers, an amazing nightcap, frog and walnut purse. He was very informative and loves his job. We wandered thru the remainder of the museum and took the bus back to the hotel with another informative tour.  As Tricia wanted to download our photos spent some time chatting with her and other tour members before facing the horrendous packing task. A few sacrifices had to be made eg Maree's kilt but we won the battle. On the whole  a fantastic trip and we look forward to boring you all with the details soon. As we check out in the morning this is our last blog post for this holiday. Hope you have ever enjoyed out travels. See you all soon.

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Where were the people

Today we headed to the storage facility of the Victoria and Albert The Clothworkers Center but as we were group 2 we had an aimless walk round for an hour then we were able to enter.  It was hard core and we needed to sign in and show photo ID then we got a wrist band. On display here there were 6 caskets and they were some of the best we have seen. One even had a garden set under the lid. There were some smalls a swan a bag and some gorgeous wee boxes with a spiral or nue pattern. The curator had also pulled some other pieces including a septacular whitework sampler. It was a truly amazing hour. It was then onto Hand and Lock where we had another hour to kill so we had a quick trip to Liberty and then ate our sandwiches in an alley, classy! Hand and Lock was very interesting and they showed us the military badge side of things and then the design room. The head designer then spoke to us about gold work embroidery and although we didn't learn anything new was good to hear. He had a large box of purls that's Maree was jealous of. Then we went to the shop where we bought some reject samples. It was then back to the hotel where we took a quick trip to the V and A gift shop back to hotel to change shoes and off to Dressed by Angels. A lack of street signs meant Maree asked some nice police men for directions.  Luckily as we got closer there were signs or we would never of found it. We were 10 min early but we're allowed in and we then discovered we were the only ones there....
It was an amazing exhibition featuring costumes from film TV  and the stage. Ever turn bought up something amazing, highlights included Aiden Turner's Poldark uniform, a dress from the Young Victoria and dresses from Elizabeth 1. It was an amazing collection brilliantly set out and more folks should be going.  Only one day to go....

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Over organised

Today our Tour Guides decided that due to some traffic issues we would leave 15 mins early so of course there was no traffic and we arrived at the Ashmolean way early and as is was raining we just waited to go inside. Had a wander around till it was our turn to enter the learning room. Today we saw 2 caskets, a sampler a small white needle weaving pic 3 pictures and a frog small. A great mix, well set out and all from the Feller Collection. After this the weather had fined up so we went for a last walk round Oxford. We stumbled upon Balliol college which was open - very stunning gardens so worth the trip. A final look at All Souls and it was on the bus to see Whitney Antiques. A shop that is over 3 rooms all crammed with antique samplers and pictures - bit out of our price range so left with nothing.  On the trip home saw road kill deer - hitting that must of upset someone's day! This bus ride saw us get another kit this time to make a pansy out of braid. Due to worries about traffic wd had a comfort stop before hitting London so of course there was no traffic!  London hotel is very nice but very small no real space for cases so one is jammed under the desk! 


View outside our bedroom window we so knew there was a reason we failed to open the curtains yesterday.

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

The waters are a scam

Sorry guys but Cheryl is writing the blog tonight! Today started early as we were going to Bath. At breakfast we discovered the bed situation seemed to be universal. We were luckier than some as our beds were at least singles.  Anyway onto  Bath and the Holburn museum we were group one and got to see one casket a large tent stitch picture, two 1920 pieces and lots of beaded bags. After our alloted time we walked around the museum while we waited for out guide to bring our museum of fashion tickets.  It was a long wait as she had to go to the museum and not the Roman baths like she thought
Once we had them off to the Roman Baths where every school child on Bath was there not great for the express visit but we got through! Tasted the water did not do much for us obviously did not drink enough!  The abbey was beautiful as once again Maree made a friend who wanted to talk about the church, again not great for the express visit. Pasties for lunch and then to the museum of fashion for our next group session this involved five pairs of gloves, two jackets, night cap a pocket and a piece of blackwork. Went thru the museum and had a spot of fun dressing up as Victorians but Maree was way too little for the costumes. Still fun though. Had a walk around the circus and saw the Royal Crescent which was made cooler by the fact a hot air balloon took off behind the crescent and flew over us. We waited for the bus to come back for thirty five minutes evidently he got stuck in traffic! Anyway last day on the bus tomorrow and back to London but first off to the Ashmolean.

Monday, 19 October 2015

You'd think they might realise by now

Today has been a long day of travel.  We left York and headed for Port Sunshine,  a created model village outside of Liverpool. It was built by Lord Lever to house the workforce for Sunlight soap and is an amazing place with 900 grade 2 listed buildings - don't panic we didn't photograph them all. They got nearly 30 different architects so the buildings are an interesting mix. The reason for this diversion was to visit the Lady Lever Gallery, an added bonus for us was they house a Pre Raphaelite collection so Maree got to see The Scapegoat and Cheryl a collection of Burne Jones paintings. There are about 6 embroideries stuck in a dark corner of one room so viewing these was a challenge but we both got a good look. We then had behind the scenes with 3 caskets 6 pictures a bible and a small oval box. One of the pictures was amazing and Maree took way too many pics of it. Grover start worrying about what will be needed! Tricia then presented us all with a mixed blessing of a book of embroideries from the Lady Lever, it's nearly an inch thick just what we needed! Back on the bus for the next long drive to Oxford. Got to hotel and here the day gets interesting. The hotel doesn't have a lift we are on the second floor to get to room we walk down a long corridor turn left down another long corridor out a fire door and up some stairs feels like boarding school. On entering the room found the twin beds pushed together so a wee rearrangement of furniture was needed. To say it is a 4 star is stretching things. We headed to the bar to get dinner and sat with some people on the tour who after looking slightly sour at us asked if we were on tour, like you can miss Maree's hair! We then headed back to the room to find only 1 suitcase had made it up so had to find tour leader and get that sorted. Tomorrow must go better, off to Bath.  

Sunday, 18 October 2015

The Smell will go on

Today dawned a tad damp we off we headed to find the location of our class and talk. We got a tad lost found the group who had come by coach and the tour leader then got us more lost. But in the end we found it. Tricia had put together a great wee project to make a peacock! We got some of 1 feather done.... Mary Brooks then spoke to us about 17th embroidery the women who stitched it and the possible reasons they stitched what they did. A very interesting talk and was interesting to learn how many pre drawn patterns were about. We then headed to the Jorvick Viking Centre hoping to book late afternoon tix but as this was too difficult we queued and went in. A very well set up place and we got a capsule to our selves to view the town. It was very well done sometimes you forget the figures are fake but the smell part of the ride stays with you for a long time.... never fear the guide book carries the fragrance. We then headed off to find The Imaginarium a shop Maree wanted to visit and though small was fantastic the staff were friendly and there were many great things to purchase but space and breakability were considered so not much was purchased.  Next on the list was York Minster an amazing building but undergoing some refurbishment so some of the stained glass was not visible.  We climbed the tower 257 more steps - so over steps but some good views. Back to the pastie shop for some food and then we once again struggled to find our way round but stumbled across some cool buildings.  Then back to hotel to attempt to pack as off to Oxford via Liverpool tomorrow. 

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Lucky bonus

Today was an early start as we had to be loaded on bus and checked out of hotel by 7.30. We managed it! Tricia issued us with a kit to keep us entertained on the bus!  Drove for 30 mins and found ourselves back at hotel still not sure why but someone must have forgotten something it was not us! So take 2 was more success as we found a much quicker route out. We had a change from the original timetable as a new exhibition  opened at Auckland Castle yesterday entitled Plots and Spangles which looks at the Guy Fawkes plot and Helena  Wintour's embroidery - her father was executed as part of the plot. Weird combination and Tricia thought there would be 1 piece on display instead there were about 13 and most of these were very detailed vestments so was a great bonus we left feeling very lazy.... it was then onto Bowes Museum where we had a provided lunch in the grandest store room you ever saw then it was off to see the automaton swan, boy the room was full but Cheryl spied the perfect viewing spot looking through a glass cabinet we could see the full side on view it was much better than the you tube video and we are glad we got to see it. It was then on to see the embroideries which are currently in with an Yves St Laurent exhibition a bonus! Maree got to see the Mondrian  inspired dress - is made out of a really ugly fabric oh well. Back on the bus to head to York.  We did see a large number of deer of various breeds and sizes and 2 foxes were spotted in some woods and 2 two humped camels - Maree missed the camels! Good animal day. Arrived in York and went to view the St Mary abbey ruin, saw the shambles on the way and bought some great pasties for tea. Back to hotel to watch rugby. York is busy on a Saturday evening with people going out by 6pm..... some very scary sights to be seen!

Friday, 16 October 2015

To the bitter end

Today was going to be titled shit....fog as this was what greeted us in Glasgow but read on and you will understand the change. The day started with the employed local guide having to apologize to us as she denied us a ticket to the Holyrood galleries on Wednesday as she didn't think we were part of the tour. So we had a wee stop ( literally ) at the Doulton pottery fountain in Glasgow as we were early for the Burrell museum.  Got to the Burrell an amazing collection gathered by one man where we saw 6 caskets and a bird small and a flower arrangement along with an extensive 17th century gallery display. Lunch here was very good! On the bus ride home we had points of local interest pointed out Stirling Castle some great horse heads made of aluminum and the landfill!  We then went back to Edinburgh for a quick change for the formal dinner where it was said in the tour to wear your tartan.  We put way too much effort into this and we're the only kilt wearer's....thank god Maree ran out of room for the corset! It was a highly entertaining evening for all the wrong reasons - Cheryl's dessert got taken away after she paused after one mouthful but Maree's one bite taken piece of haggis was still on the table when we left!  Maree got knocked on the head with a glass by the over zealous wait staff and the entertainment was a tad creepy as the old guy in the kilt sang live songs to the young girls.....  The toilets provided a giggle as the paper was located on the back wall behind you if you had had a few wines it might have been too complex to find! Made friends with Amy from thread in hand blog so that was a plus.  Excuse the poor pics as could not have flash on but note the haggis scarier than the ghost tour. packing now for an early start for York.

Thursday, 15 October 2015

History lessons

Today was full of history lessons.....
We began by breakfast at hotel not as good as Newton House or blackberries from Waitrose. We then headed to St Giles Cathedral but we're a tad early so had a wander around first. Some great buildings to be seen. St Giles is an amazing building and Maree was lucky enough to get get stopped by one of the volunteers to check she had a photo pass and then got a very in depth history lesson. Cheryl mean while was wandering around wondering where she had got too... we had a quick look at the Thistle Chapel before high tailing it back to get on the tour bus where we headed to the off site storage facility of the Scottish museum.  Here we had our first up close and personal with 17th century stitching. There were 5 caskets a range of toys some smalls and a whitework sampler! Some of the colours on the caskets were amazing. Unfortunately you will all have to wait for pics as we are bound by waivers that say we can't put pics on public profiles but we promise to bore you with pics on our return. It was then off to the Museum and a lecture on Scottish samplers but as we were starving we made a detour via the cafe then struggled to find the room - ended up having to get to it through the bathroom corridor?  But made it in time.  We can now spot a Scottish sampler at at least 100feet... We then chose to walk back to the hotel and wait for our final history lesson via the Merkat Doomed Dead and Buried ghost tour. For Maree this reinforced all her earlier lessons of the day but a fee new facts were to be learned and we went to the vaults below the city which was cool but a little complex if you are a bumbling Burnnand but we managed to stay up right. 

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

If lost please return to

A quiet day by our standards we were over organised this morning so ended up 1 and a half hours early for the train.... better than being late! Arrived on time after watching a lady miss the stop in York she just sat there and as the train began to pull away stood up and said have I missed the stop? We got a lovely taxi driver who pointed out the high points and a brief history lesson and even carried our bags up the stairs in the hotel.  The girl on the desk is from Hawkes Bay and was excited to hear kiwi accents. We ditched our bags, put on our lanyards - they have name and address on- and climbed a goodly number of steps to the castle we had a quick walk around and found some some fellow lanyard wearer's so they could direct us to the bus. Then it was off to Holyrood House where we saw Mary Queen of Scots embroidery 2 caskets and some stitching smalls unfortunately these are in a very dim room and hard to see. We have a frolick through the garden and took numerous pics of the abbey ruin. We walked back to hotel went to supermarket and arrived back at same time bus was pulling up.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Close but no cigar

Today we aimed to conquer the Tower and hoped to recreate our solo trip through the crown jewels - we well conquered the tower but never managed solo through the jewels were close though.  As we are members of the Historic Palaces we went for a quick hour trip this morning to see the jewels and the Norman Chapel and then headed to Temple to check out Temple Church which was a great airy light church and the ladies on the desk were quite excited when we bought the guide book. We then wandered to Blackfriars and saw the Blackfriars pub and decided to return for dinner. A spur of the moment decision was then made to check out All Hallows church before returning to the Tower. This was a good decision as it was closed last visit and it had a really interesting museum in the crypt. Back to Tower we headed and it was time for the day before Anne Boleyn's crowning re-enactment a great way to spend half an hour. Maree had a chat with one of the actresses before hand and she never left character so the discussion was about Anne vs Catherine of Aragon! We then completed our tour of the Tower including the Crown Jewels again and exited via most gift shops.... the man at the last one asked where we were from and if we had enjoyed our day and when we told him we had been 5 times he was most impressed and we thought we were never going to get away from him!
Blackfriars was our dinner spot for the night an awesome pub but the Portuguese bar man did struggle to understand Maree but he was quite funny and we got dinner in the end - great fish and chips! After dropping our stuff at the apartment a quick trip to Liberty to pick up a few things and now we need to pack. Tour starts tomorrow!

Monday, 12 October 2015

Google maps sucks

This morning we learned discipline will be needed on the tour for us to be ready each morning. We were hoping to be on a 8.35 train yeah right so not happening so we made the 9.35 but as Hampton Court Palace opens at 10 this was not so bad as it was bloody cold and we entered the Palace at 10.10 so all good.  We hit the high points of HenryVIII and decided to join the Tudor tour which was brilliant a lady was our guide an periodically had to leave to check something and while away other actors played out a senario that we 'helped' chose the outcome but since it was to do with Catherine Howard the outcome was pretty chosen as her head was being detached no matter what but it was a lot of fun. We looked round the rest of the palace and the gardens which looked far better this trip. We then headed to the Royal School of Needlework where the lady in the shop was lovely! Here we did a tour of the Whitework exhibition that is on. We started out with an intro by one of the full time embroiderers that was interesting but things took a turn for the worst when the volunteer took over to show us  round her knowledge was poor. But we saw a couple of amazing gold work pieces that made up for it. Sorry no pics. We then exited through the gift shop - both RSN and Hampton - and had a slightly stressed trip back to town but exited at Liverpool station with 15 mins to find Dennis Sever house Google maps sucks.  Luckily the lovely lady walking her dogs knew where to go we were 1 street away and only ended up a few minutes late. This was a truly awesome experience is done in complete silence and the house is lit by candles. You move through 4 floors looking at rooms that feel and look like people have just walked out of would highly recommend it! Only 1 day to go and then off to the tour!

Membership rocks

Yesterday was a big day but we managed the objective and then some! First we headed on foot to Kensington Palace, arrived early saw them setting up for a half marathon so decided to enter - yeah right I think not. We wandered round the grounds did the wiggle walk not as exciting as it sounds but still fun. Saw 4 squirrels one was way too friendly! Then at 10 as the rest of the folk started to queue we went straight in with our membership card. Even got a welcome enjoy your visit from the man! We made a good choice and headed straight for the fashion exhibition where we dicovered soon great clothes worn by the queen in the 50's and saw Diana got the bum end of the deal being in the 80's wide shoulders and drop waists have not dated well. We learned the queen had a larger bust line, princess Margaret was very thin in the day. We then headed to the Queens state apartment where unlike last time there were no paper cut outs what an improvement.  The Kings apartments were next and there was a return of the paper but thankfully this time it was made into period costumes dotted about. The Victoria Revealed hadn't changed but we enjoyed a wander through it. We both felt a much more enjoyable second visit was had. Red house was next and after a wrong over ground train station was selected we got on the train and made good time out there.  The layout was quite different with the tea room now the shop and more rooms were open for us to visit.  As we were starving we headed to the cafe and had fantastic soup and higgity pie best value we have eaten. Then on to the house where they have very keen volunteers in each room some better than others.  The painting on the walks in the room where we stitched last time has been uncovered and was amazing. Shows a wedding scene and the bride and groom are shown as William Morris and Jane Burden. In the master bedroom there us also a new wall painting uncovered while hazy was very interesting to see. Loads of pics later we headed to the gift shop where we purchased Top and Gabriel our new wombat! Luck saw us just get to train as it was leaving so a very quick walk meant we got to the Tower (again avoiding the queue ) in time to see inside the chapel where Anne Boleyn's remains are. We had a wander through the crown jewels with half of London and then headed to sky garden where they had a ticketing fail, our tickets were for 6.30 but queued and queued and finally got in about 7.15 after a full security check. The lift to 35 floors is seamless and the view is amazing but was dark by the time we got there so the garden inside was difficult to see due to mood lighting. Home was next and Gemma (friend of Cheryl) came to visit so wad great to catch up with her. Just so you know we are meeting targets a full itinerary has been lodged with the folks if you want to check!

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Eck it's late

Have not written blog too late now will update in the morning.

Saturday, 10 October 2015

Itinerary Malfunction

Hmm mm,  today we had a small issue the plan was to spend the evening at late night at the museum but late night was last night oops.  Good thing we found out yesterday so could amend the plan.  For once in our lives we arrived out at the Foundling Museum EARLY so took the chance to wander down to Red Lion Square to check out where Rossetti,  Burne Jones and Morris once lived pleased we had not made a special effort just to go there!  It was then back to the Foundling which was very cool and they had an exhibition called the Fallen Woman which had some very difficult to read original letters related to woman trying to sign their babies over. It was then off to the Museum of Childhood, this has a huge range of toys and a fantastic range of dollhouses.  Maree was spellbound by the large rocking horse and walked into a large metal sitting bench and is now sporting a decent bruise on the knee. It was then a trek back to see the galleries of the V and A that were closed last night and this proved a fruitful visit with 2 caskets a heap of embroidery and a room of Pre Raphaelite items. Good times for us! We then walked down to Harrods where we walked through fine and luxury jewelry just cos we could then checked out the Christmas shop - poor selection eg a £189 gorilla decoration, a lobster and some large fluffy balls! Feeling brave we battled through Harrods gift world bought nothing and left. Did manage to find the Princess Diana and Dodi memorial and get a picture. We also visited both Waitrose and Tesco if Mother was with us it would be her trip highlight 2 supermarkets in one day. Sad we are missing Bathurst....

Friday, 9 October 2015

Always read the fine print

Today we headed to the end of the line and went to William Morris gallery in Walthamstow thankfully it was dry and sunny as it was a tad of walk! Awesome place though and had some great interactive activities for kids (may have had to have a go) the rubbings were especially cool. There was also an activity where you were William Morris and had 4 years to make your fortune by choosing products and designers you saw how your business would progress. We made £1405 pounds the man told us this is a good score but the record is over £1550 held by a 9 year old! Exit by the gift shop saw a few small purchases made. We then set off to Covent Garden where we accidently ended up going up 157 stairs eck the lift would have been easier! The seven dials was visited and we had a spot of lunch in Trafalgar Square thankfully we did not need to take any iconic pics as there was going to be some festival on today. Maree wanted to check out the gift shop but didn't end up buying anything. Victoria and Albert Museum was next where we split up for 1/2 an hour then went to the Shoe exhibition which has some great shoes but suffers from poor layout, slow British readers and the worst 'gift' shop ever! We then learned that there is fine print on the late night opening of the V and A and most of it is shut opps!  But Maree got to see the Beasts of Dacre and they were all there! Lucky for us they had curry in the tea room to co inside with an exhibition and it was yum. Looking back it has been a busy week! No squirrel for a few days but did spot 3 at Highgate but forgot to mention them due to foxes! Tomorrow we head to Founder's museum,  museum of Childhood and V and A again....