Westminster Hall – introducing our Guest Photographer

So we have some special news for you today… And we’d love to know what you think!

Since the photographer half of us has just bought a new camera, the Canon 70D (details over on our Twitter) there’s his old 600D around the place. He’s looking to sell it, but hasn’t yet, so he very kindly offered it to me temporarily to try out a few shots. Although I’m terrified of dropping it, I’ve been having a brilliant time on our photography days out (making heavy use of the ‘automatic’ setting…). I’d love it if you’d have a look at my efforts and see what you think! Suffice to say I won’t be taking over as the primary photo-taker in this relationship, though…

NB: read this post first for an explanation of where we went.

Chandos House:

Chandos House light

Houses of Parliament:

Houses of Parliament

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Things of beauty: Chandos House and Westminster Hall

As part of the wonderful Open House weekend which swept across London recently, we braved the queues and decided to go and visit a couple of the open venues. But first, a gripe… Although the Open House concept is amazing, and the execution good too – friendly staff, efficient queuing and a huge number of open places – the app is genuinely terrible [so frustrating]. Without opening times and days despite them being on the website, entire venues going AWOL, and with an impossible map, we had problems planning where we wanted to go and started the Sunday heading to Portcullis House which was in fact closed. (Annoyed, we ventured on to Westminster Hall, which looked fairly uninspiring in the Open House listing; fortunately for us, it was actually one of the highlights of the whole project.)

But first, Chandos House. Rather random, and again not portrayed favourably on the Open House publicity, we chose it for the Adam brothers’ name and the fact that it was just behind Oxford Street, which was on our way elsewhere. However, it was possibly one of the most exquisitely gorgeous gems I’ve seen in London.

A confection of sparkle and pastel colours:

Chandos chandelier

It was designed by the Adam brothers as a showcase of their design talent, and is now owned by the Royal Society of Medicine. You can in fact stay here, and it’s a remarkably reasonably priced hotel for such a central location – recommended for a special and secret stay in London!

Chandos chandelier mirror

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Open House: Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Recently, the wonderful Open House weekend took place in London. Although our Sunday visits had a few issues (see the next post for that story!), on Saturday we headed to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to take a peek inside. The queue was terrifyingly long but surprisingly fast-moving, and we were inside and through security in about 20 minutes.

We were awed at what we saw when we entered! Surprisingly opulent and with stunning ceilings and colours, we very much enjoyed wandering around.

Designed by Gilbert Scott (along with other large parts of London!), there are various beautiful rooms which are [casually] used as meeting and conference rooms by the Foreign Office.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

There are huge, grand halls, making it hard to believe it was a petition away from being demolished, being run down and largely derelict 50 years ago.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

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Scandal at Cliveden

For the bank holiday weekend, we headed to Cliveden to see for ourselves the luxurious yet scandalous home of the Astors and the Profumo affair. A beautiful house that is now a rather grand hotel, the grounds are managed by the National Trust. (Unfortunately there’s a lot of scaffolding at the moment!)

Cliveden

There was a new rose garden, which gave ample opportunity for some close-up shots…

Rose

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Cornwall part 2 – Lanhydrock

On one of our Cornwall days the weather was looking faintly ominous, so we decided to visit Lanhydrock, a National Trust property near Bodmin. With over 50 rooms open to the public alongside beautiful gardens and over 900 acres of land, it was possibly the most impressive National Trust visit I’ve ever had. The focus of the Trust’s vision is to bring the family (the Agar-Robartes) alive for visitors, and they certainly managed to do so for us.

From the impressive gatehouse, built in the 1500s, down the drive to the house, largely burned down and rebuilt in high Victorian style in the 1880s, we were discovering gorgeous architecture and interesting details throughout our visit.

Gatehouse

Doorway in the main courtyard:

Door

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Quick visit to Richmond

[Just the iPhone 5s today, DSLR stayed at home]

On another beautifully sunny Sunday (we’ve been very lucky this summer) the Month of Sundays pair headed out to Richmond to see what we could find. We stumbled upon a particularly retro Tesco Express:

Posh Tesco

If you don’t mind a bit of a walk, there’s a free car park near the National Trust’s Ham House, from where we walked along the river to the centre. There were some extremely photogenic cows:

View over Richmond park

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The Vyne, Hampshire

[Due to an unfortunate incident the DSLR was out of action for this trip, so the iPhone 5s had to step in]

Recently, we decided to spend a day away from London and headed to The Vyne, a beautiful Tudor house in Hampshire.

The Vyne

Coincidentally, they were having a Tudor weekend so we got involved – with a hog roast and traditional pastimes, such as archery. There was a bit of girly success here, which was extremely exciting (please note the arrow directly in the centre…) [Please also note that it was an unsporting extra arrow that gifted this victory]

Golden arrow

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Trip to the Isle of Wight

[My Canon 600D was unfortunately out of action for this trip, but my flatmate kindly lent me his Nikon 3200, so all was not lost]

We recently had a wonderful trip to the Isle of Wight for a weekend away. Expecting rain, we were pleased and surprised to have hot, dry weather and beautiful blue sky for all three days. We visited beautiful, unspoilt beaches like this one and paddled (although the pebbles were painful!).

Isle of Wight beach

Walking down to another beach, we found a stream of little notes, taped to branches and fenceposts, and sometimes to the path itself. So romantic! [She gets excited about these things.] We decided it must be for a husband or boyfriend returning from the army.

Returning love notes

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Beautiful Hampstead

On one of the first properly summery days this year, we decided to visit the newly re-opened Kenwood House, which sits atop the glorious Hampstead Heath.

Kenwood House

Walking across the Heath, we enjoyed a spot of people-watching and feeling that we were miles away from London.

Hampstead Heath

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A brush with royalty

Something you might not know about the Month of Sundays crew of two is that we like singing. We’re fortunate, as this takes us to some really beautiful places, like Windsor

Windsor Castle

We were spending the weekend singing services at St George’s Chapel inside Windsor Castle, which also meant that we were taken to parts not open to the public. Which was pretty cool. But the whole city is beautiful and doable in a day, which is ideal as a day trip from London (it’s about 25 minutes from Paddington). There are quirky places to see, like this crooked tearoom:

Market Cross House

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