Tuesday 30 August 2016

Steampunk - The Asylum 2016

 The largest Steampunk festival in the world took place over the weekend and a couple of friends were taking part so went went along to meet them and soak up the atmosphere (and gawp at the costumes).  Steampunk is based in Victoriana, but with steam based technology, although, having said that,  there are many interpretations including Goth and Wild West.  It is all-inclusive, all ages and there is a friendly feeling as you walk around, even if you are not taking part.  The main Asylum website is here.  Lots of activities and workshops had been arranged over the weekend - tea duelling seems to be popular!
 Some people had put a lot of work into their costumes.  There were lots of top hats and pith helmets, feathers, frills, corsets and bustles.
Face painting could also be included.
 We loved this man's costume although he did admit to being rather hot and was pleased when the sun went in.
 We watched the Belly Fusion Dance Collective who were appearing at different venues throughout the weekend.
 The steampunked bike drew lots of admiring glances.
 Castle Square was busy and had lots of stalls where steampunk accessories could be purchased.
There was a good atmosphere but it was very crowded.
Here is a link to a news report on the festival.  Chris and I are thinking of taking part next year...maybe.

Sunday 21 August 2016

Late summer flowers

There is a feeling of autumn being just around the corner in the garden.  The stalwarts of late summer are busy flowering, along with a few hangers-on from earlier.  Japanese anemone 'Bressingham Glow' (I think) gives a burst of bright pink.
 The agapanthus I bought last year came through the winter in the shed and has rewarded me with four flowers this year.
Clematis Blue Angel has been lovely,
Crocosmia 'Emily Mackenzie' has made a lovely contrast with the blue of the agapanthus. 
Hibiscus BlueBird reliably flowers throughout August, the exotic looking flowers belying its hardiness.
 My favourite hardy geranium, Rozanne, with the white centre and dark anthers.
 Helianthus Lemon Queen has not been happy this year and the clump has diminished a lot.  Perhaps I need to dig it up and split/replant the best bits.
 Another hibiscus - Woodbridge, I think.
Another shot of the fiery orange and red from the crocosmia.  Still a lot to enjoy, including blueberries and raspberries.  Chris has said he'll make blueberry jam, so that will be interesting!

Tuesday 9 August 2016

Visit to Burghley House (part two) - the Sculpture Garden

 So here is part two of our visit to Burghley House; the Sculpture Garden.  It was a bit of a relief to escape from the shrieking but happy and wet children in the Garden of Surprises and head into the slightly wilder but very lovely park area.  There were areas of wildflowers which were kept in check by metal scalloped edging, which was very effective and the flowers added a much needed splash of colour.
 We all liked these.
 I was rather remiss as I didn't make any notes about any of the sculptures - I just took photos of ones I liked, such as the lifelike stag above.
 The fighting horses were made of willow.
 I wasn't sure whether I liked this - in fact I found it just a little disturbing, although there was a flash of recognition as Lincoln has a stainless steel face by the same artist (Rick Kirby) at the Drill Hall, which is an entertainment venue.
(Photo of the Lincoln Drill Hall face from http://notesonpaper.blogspot.co.uk/2013_07_01_archive.html )
Here it is.  Just one thing - why are they both so grumpy?
I really liked the park area the sculptures were set in and the way different vistas presented themselves as we walked around.  Some of the sculptures are permanent, whereas others were part of a temporary exhibition. 
We spied another stag through the trees and across the lake.
 The canada geese were real.
 Swans were a-swimming and I liked the reflections of the crocosmia.
 This labyrinth had some interesting patterns...
..but then nature can do a good job with patterns on her own.
 The oversized flowers couldn't be ignored.
 I thought the sinuous lines of the reflective metal worked well with the backdrop of green.
 These sculptures were sea-related, with fish tails and shell like forms.
The restful green of all the foliage in this little valley was beautiful.
This sculpture made a gentle melodic noise when the discs were gently tapped, which was an added sensory delight.
We agreed that we had really enjoyed the Sculpture Garden and this was definitely worth visiting.
(I noticed that Phil Spencer is presenting a new series on Stately Homes on More 4 and guess what the first one is?  Yes, Burghley - what a coincidence!  It is on tonight on More 4 at 9.00 pm.  I think I'll be watching!)

Thursday 4 August 2016

Visit to Burghley House (part 1)

 I visited Burghley House (built for William Cecil in the 1600s) last week; I last visited over twenty years ago.  I used to live in Stamford, opposite one of the entrances to Burghley Park, so it was all familiar.  I was interested to see what had changed.  There had been some building to create a new entrance and exhibition space, but, as you would expect, the house remained as I remembered. The last time I visited, it was by guided tour only and while you do get lots of nuggets of information from the guides, you are limited as to how long you can stay in each room.  This time, no guided tours but audio ones if required and a guide was in each room - some of them added to our discussions (particularly concerning women artists and sitting for a portrait).  We could spend as long as we wanted to in each room, which was a bonus.  Photos without flash were allowed in the house, but in the event, I didn't take many.
 I liked the orchid and fern display in the massive copper pot in the kitchen.
 The array of servants' bells also intrigued me - there was another wall like this to my left.
The Heaven Room is described as the painter Verrio's masterpiece and is indeed very impressive. Burghley featured as Rosings Park, home of the formidable Lady Catherine de Bourgh (Dame Judi Dench) in the 2005 film of  Pride and Prejudice.  There is an interesting blog post here
 I was more taken with the fabulous floral carpet!
Outside the orangery (well, we were obliged to stop and have tea), there is a small rose garden with a lovely Magnolia Grandiflora.  However, Burghley does lack the typical beautiful gardens which I, for one, expect to see at an English Country House and I remember being disappointed by that when I was much younger on a previous visit.
There is a relatively recent addition to the gardens with 'The Garden of Surprises' which comprises different gardens around the theme of water and plenty of opportunities to get wet!
I liked the calm of the tree water fountain.
The rill edged with lavender was also lovely (but paddling was not allowed, sadly).
There was some pretty planting in some of the gardens.
This one squirted mist at you as you went in.  There were lots of wet children running about and laughing, having a marvellous time, but it was all a bit manic and we were quite relieved to head out to the Sculpture Garden (more about that in my next post and I am pleased to say that the Sculpture Garden did make up for the lack of formal garden.)
A quiet view into the Garden of Surprises.
We wandered across the park (noticing the ha-ha on the way, designed as an elegant solution to stop meandering livestock from getting onto one's front lawn, without destroying the view of one's rolling acres).
We went to Lion Bridge which gave a pleasing view of the house across Capability Brown's landscape (although I'm sure those trees didn't used to be there, obscuring part of the house).
The view the other way - a quintessential English landscape, designed and implemented by Mr Brown and his huge team of workers.
One of the four lions continuing to guard the bridge.  Burghley is an amazing house with some stunning artworks and furniture and a perfect way to spend a day.