His birthday adventures – from Regent’s Canal to a secret Tube station¬†

Our birthdays are six days apart, which in effect means about three weeks of continuous sociableness and fun. We thought we’d share with you a little snippet, though, of each birthday – the bits that you might like to do for yourselves (rather than have a barbecue/camping/mini-festival with my friends, which you might enjoy less than I did, for example [oi, stay on topic – this week is my birthday]).

First, it was his birthday [better]. Given our (his) [definitely our] slightly geeky propensity for transport, I booked a canal boat trip along the Regent’s Canal, from Little Venice to Camden Lock. Simply called Jason’s (both the boat and the enterprise), it trundled up the river while the owner gave us a fascinating historical commentary.

Cafe boat in Little Venice

We passed lovely boats, old factories, beautiful houses, and ended up at the love-it-or-hate-it Camden Lock.

Boat passing through Camden lock

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We’re back!

Hello! We know we’ve been quiet for a while…

It’s not been the greatest few months and blogging wasn’t something we were in the mindset to do. But all is now well – with a brand new job, new flat and new National Trust membership in time for summer, we’re full of fabulous weekend trips and summer excursions to tell you about! In fact, this month includes both our birthdays, which may or may not include some superb days out – we couldn’t possibly comment… (Even to each other! [The suspense is killing me…])

Theo the dog

Two fabulous summer happenings already (above and below) – a dachshund and a rose (both from my parents’)!

Rose

We’ll also be belatedly posting back through the last few months [I’ve got quite a few photos to dig through], so there should be plenty to read very soon! Thank you for sticking with us ūüôā

A trip to the Avebury stones

To road-test my fancy new pay-monthly National Trust membership¬†[previously you had to pay for the full year in one go, but now you can pay by monthly direct debit: currently ¬£5/month], we paid a long-overdue visit to Avebury in Wiltshire. You may know Avebury for the prehistoric stones, in the manner of Stonehenge – some would say Avebury is far superior! Although less impressive as a photo-op because they are more widely spread, the stones at Avebury cover a [much] bigger area and are many more in number. It’s also a wonderfully cute village [partly¬†encircled by the stones] and contains a manor house which is also worth a visit.

Dinner at Avebury Manor

Avebury Manor was chosen in 2009 by the BBC for a restoration project (The Manor Reborn) with the NT. They restored each room from a different era of its life and ownership, making it the first ‘hands on’ house – everything is touchable, which makes it a great place for children (and adults! [it’s amazing, you can even try¬†out the¬†beds…]) to visit. The dining room (above) is a Georgian recreation, where it’s entirely possible to sit at the table as though you were taking part in that excellent cheese course… Featuring real port too, judging by the smell! [Real, yes, but I wouldn’t advise drinking it…]

Below is a detail from Alexander Keiller‘s sitting room, in rather garish 40’s style – he was the archaeologist who excavated and restored the stones, and made Avebury the site it is today. We may have played with this camera for a fair while…

Vintage Kodak camera

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Weekend in Leeds, part 2 – Hardwick Hall

After Nostell yesterday, we then headed to Hardwick Hall. Although pretty cloudy (see below), it was stunning. This year, the house is celebrating its association with Arbella Stuart, niece of Mary, Queen of Scots and Bess of Hardwick’s protegee. Bess, Arbella’s grandmother, built the house and attempted throughout Arbella’s youth to realise her not insubstantial claim to the English throne. Arbella had other ideas, however, and ended up imprisoned in the Tower after a secret marriage.

Hardwick Hall

Gripping as it is, the experience of the house runs alongside and yet beyond these two fiesty¬†Elizabethan women. Built in 1590, the house is one of the earliest examples of English Renaissance architecture, and seems to herald the arrival of the ‘country house’. Its very structure has been built to accommodate the more traditional hierarchy of master and servant, with very separate living quarters and ceiling height and scale to reflect the seniority of that room’s inhabitants. It also sees a move toward the more decorative architectural style, and a departure from the fortifications of castles of old.

Bedroom at Hardwick Hall

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