Monday 30 June 2014

Week 3: Petworth House

The irony of living somewhere is that you rarely get to see what's right on your own doorstep.

As a child, I grew up not too far from Petworth House but have never been there to visit!  Not even on a school trip. Astounding!

So, an opportunity arose this week which meant I was able to make time to stop by on my way past.

It's a glorious place - the actual entrance is just north of the town and it's surrounded by a large and expansive park, laid out by Capability Brown in the 1750s.  There's a herd of famous white fallow deer, which can sometimes be spotted over the park walls.

Petworth House
The house itself is crammed full of art and sculpture - far more than I expected.  Hundreds of artists - most famously Turner but also Van Dyck, Constable, Gainsborough, Blake, Cuyp, Heironymus Bosch and many others.

North Gallery - Petworth House
A surprise was the room created by Grinling Gibbons with yet more Turners and other masterpieces.  Each room has a very informative guide - giving details of all the art and sculpture in each room as well as the history and development of the room.

The Carved Room - Petworth House
On Monday afternoons two of the private rooms, used by the Egremont family, are opened up to the public and the bedrooms are open on another day.

The park is also a great place to walk around, although I didn't have time to do more than a short circuit up to an impressive stand of chestnut trees, complete with spotted flycatchers, flitting about in the branches.

Sweet chestnut trees - Petworth Park
Of course there's somewhere to take a break and refresh after you've done the tour - in either the Coffee shop or the restaurant, which are both in the servants quarters - also worth a visit, as was the archaeology exhibition.

I can highly recommend the Marmalade cake!

Petworth House is closed on Thursday and Friday but special 'behind the scenes' tours run on these days.

Tuesday 17 June 2014

Week 2: London - Victoria Embankment

As I needed to go up to London, I thought I could tick off another of my #52Things with a visit to a museum. However, Southern Rail had other plans - or whoever caused the incident at Battersea Park did.  I ended up at East Croydon where all Victoria trains were terminating and had to make alternate arrangements to get in to London.

Trains were arriving with nowhere to go and general chaos trying to work out which train was going where.

Finally jumped on a train to Blackfriars and as I wasn't going to make it to the Natural History Museum in time, took a walk along the length of Victoria Embankment from Blackfriars to Westminister Bridge - avoiding sightseeing tourists and commuting joggers.

High Tide Victoria Embankment
High Tide Victoria Embankment

A very high tide. I can see why the Thames Barrier is used so often. It wouldn't take much to breach the banks.

Memorial to Sir Joseph Bazalgette
Memorial to Sir Joseph Bazalgette

There several memorials along the way, which most tourists probably miss, while busily photographing themselves and others in front of the more familiar tourist sights and despite the traffic fumes it's a pleasant walk along side the river.

The London Eye
Me and the London Eye

Do something different.  Take the opportunity to walk overground for all or part of your journey, rather than disappear underground.

Will leave the Natural History Museum (and the London Eye) for another day.

Monday 9 June 2014

Week 1: Golf Taster Day

My first official event as part of 52 Things.  A trip to Mid Sussex Golf Club, just outside Ditchling at the foot of the Downs with The Lady Golfer Club.
Lady Golfers!
After a very convivial coffee in the club house, as we gathered, we headed out to the putting green for our first instruction - how to hold the club, not as easy as you might think and then a bit of practice putting.  Hitting way too hard to start with but definitely improving by the end.
On the putting green
On to chipping - with a basket full of balls and terrifying the locals as shots went in all directions - as did the crowd whenever anyone got a hole in one.  Unintentionally of course, we were just aiming to get it out of the rough and on to the green - again, harder than it looks.
Chipping in the rough
Having honed our chipping skills - on to the serious stuff - the driving range and a very impressive indoor setup where you can be filmed as you 'drive off' - if that's the correct technical term.  Going through the basics before being allowed out to hit more balls in various directions - some of them even going straight!
... and whack it!
Never having played golf before, except perhaps for a bit of pitch and putt years ago, I didn't disgrace myself too much and managed to connect club to ball more than a few times.  Although I think it will need a lot more practice before being let anywhere near a fairway!
Now relax and enjoy.
We certainly worked up an appetite, which was just as well as to finish off the morning, they'd laid on a lovely lunch for us - out on the terrace in the sunshine.

Friday 6 June 2014

A Year Ago Today

English: pink ribbon

This time last year I received the news that I have breast cancer.

One year down the line, it's Summer, the sun is shining - in more ways than one and it seems a distant memory and slightly unreal.

I don't have breast cancer any more.  I've been through surgery, reconstruction, chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

I've put on weight, lost weight, lost all my hair, grown it back again, watched more films than I thought possible while recovering, been so well supported by family and friends, managed to keep working, written a book, made some lovely friends and started a year of #52Things.

I have a new hairstyle, some parts of me are 'new'(!) and some bits still don't work quite as well as they did but I'm very definitely out the other side.  My energy is back, my strength is growing.  I can do things now I couldn't do a few months ago.

I'm feeling more like my old self, although with a much more positive outlook on life.

Sunday 1 June 2014

Killer heels

I grabbed a pair of 'killer' high heels off the shelf to try on with a dress.  It was a bit of a joke as I had no intention of purchasing such a pair of skyscrapper heels.  However, apart from having to climb up onto them, they actually looked good, as well as making me six inches taller!

You can't walk in them and they'd wreck your feet if you did for any length of time - but I bought a pair!  As someone who's more used to barefoot, flats, trainers or maybe a slight heel, I admire anyone who can strut around in a pair of these.

I wore them to my Celebration Party - very Kate Middleton apparently.  Not the original peep-toe pair I first tried on, which really did cripple my feet, but a slightly more 'comfortable' pair, worn with a pair of 'high heel', barely there tights!  Yes, even my uber trendy, fashion conscious niece didn't know about these.  The 'high-heel' element is a cushioned pad on the ball of your foot to make them slightly more comfortable.  Find them in M&S - along with peep-toe versions for those summer shoes - a revelation in the tight department.  Highly recommended.

Back down to my flatties or bare feet ...
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