Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Christmas Windows and Greetings

I have decided to take a break in my Jane Austen Festival posting, to bring you something slightly more festive. This morning I went into central London to see some of the shop windows, as I heard that Harrods's windows were a must see. I was not disappointed. The theme this year is a 30s style train - think Orient Express with a modern twist.

I will apologise in advance for the photos. They are not great because of the reflections on the windows, and because I had to take them quickly as there were so many people walking past!

The engine of the Harrods Christmas Express. The wheels moved, there was smoke and sound effects. So cool. :)

The name on one of the carriages

This was my favourite window

A close up. As you can see from the water drops on the glass, the weather was being typically British! 

There were large windows which showed the inside of carriages, and smaller windows which were set up as train carriage windows with blinds, showing little displays. I love this art deco style tea set (or it might be a coffee set!)

The bar carriage 

The dinning carriage

Try to ignore the National Express coach!!

Wishing you all the Merriest of Christmases. I hope you have a fabulous time. :)

Early Victorian Christmas


Monday, 16 December 2013

Jane Austen Festival - Part 3

On the Sunday I went to a fabulous evening soiree. It was held in Beckford's Tower - an amazing folly in the outskirts of Bath, that was built in 1827 for William Beckford (who also commissioned Fonthill Abbey)

(image from www.pocketbritain.com)
When I arrived at the tower it was dark so I couldn't take any photos, so I borrowed this lovely photo of the tower in the snow (of course since it was September at the time it wasn't actually snowing, but thought I would be slightly festive, it being December! :) )

The party was organised by the wonderful Helena. It included delicious regency food, great entertainment and even a footman!

The evening began with a candlelit tour of the tower - where we climbed right to the top, and saw an amazing view over Bath. 

(taken by the lovely Claire Violet Hanley)
Aurora and I at the top of the tower

(Taken by the lovely Claire Violet Hanley)
Me and a rather ghostly image of Jeanette

(image from www.jetsettimes.com)
Looking down the stairs from the top of the tower. (Not taken by me as my camera is pretty rubbish in limited light.)

After the tour, we returned to the Drawing Room where we ate and chatted.

The food.

Then Jeanette, Lyze and Aurora performed a harp recital. 

And then the games began...

(Taken by the lovely Jeanette Klok-Heller)
A game of blindmans buff. It was hilarious, we were all in fits of laughter! You can just see me popping my head out from behind one side of the curtains and Lyze popping her head out the other side! :)
We had a wonderful time playing many other games, one being Pin the Tail on the Footman! The footman had a cushion tied to his chest and a picture of a napoleonic soldier on horseback, pinned to it. You had to try and pin the horse's tail on the horse without pinning the footman in the process!! Rather a tricky process. And it was made all the more difficult, and entertaining, by the fact that the footman kept moving around!! :)

On the Tuesday I went on the day trip to Stoneleigh Abbey - home of Jane Austen's relatives the Leighs. Sadly no photos were allowed inside the house, but here are a few of the outside.

Eliane. I love her camera basket - a very clever way to conceal a camera when aiming to look historically accurate.

Me hiding from the rain!!

The gatehouse

It was fascinating how the house, and Austen's stay there, inspired so many of the characters and scenes in her novels. It is definitely worth a visit.

After Stoneleigh we returned to Bath via Leamington Spa. I had never been to Leamington before, but sadly we weren't able to tour the town as the weather was being typically British and chucking it down with rain. We sought refuge in the local muesum, which contained much information about the town's history, and various items from its past.

A regency overshoe

Fabulous 30s Railway poster advertising the town

A Victorian shower

I can't remember what this is, but it looks rather like an inkwell.

I think this is a workbox.

Another fabulous poster

lace making

Amazing and adorable child's bonnet

After the museum, we sneaked into the pump rooms and took a few photos. 

Sadly the room was set up for a conference, so as you can see the picture is rather ruined by patches of ugly modernness.

The wonderful glass on the inner front doors.

We got lost on the way back to Bath, but luckily I made it back just in time to attend a lovely card party. More on that in the next post.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Jane Austen Festival part 2 - The American Museum

Warning: Very photo heavy post!!! :)

On the Sunday morning after the ball, I decided to go into town and take the free shuttle bus to the American Museum. I had wanted to visit the museum for quite sometime, but every year I had never gotten round to it. This year I decided enough was enough, I was going to go even if it meant walking all the way there. Luckily I found out about the bus, so no need to go on a 10 mile hike! :)
I especially wanted to go that weekend, as the American Civil War Society were holding their annual end of year reenactment at the museum, and I had long wanted to see an ACW reenactment.

The Museum is housed in an old country house (formerly Claverton Manor), and most rooms are decorated in a different historical American style (just like the rooms of the DAR Museum in Washington DC), interspersed with a few exhibition rooms. 

The first room was a reconstructed 18th century tavern

The next room was an exhibition room which contained a few items of clothing

A beautiful victorian dress.

The back. I tried to get a close up of the embroidery but every photo came out blurry!!! :(

So pretty, with a beautifully embroidered train.

A slightly blurry close up of the train. It had little embroidered bees all over it!

The next room was full of chairs from different decades throughout America's history.

I really need to start taking notes when visiting museums, as I can't remember anything about this room, and it isn't in the guide book!

Dolls made by early settlers.

Right, I need to apologise for the majority of the photos you are about to see. Despite my camera claiming to be anti shaking/blurring, most of the photos I took of the rooms came out really blurry! :( . Am hoping Father Christmas might give me a new one. :)

A 17th century Keeping room


A slightly blurry candle storage box

c.1763 parlor.

The dome in the ceiling of the building's stairwell.

A regency lady gracing the walls

A parlor c.1770

There was a small exhibition on the tea trade

an early 19th century tea cady.

A late 18th century Drawing Room

I spent a while trying to take a clear photo of the gown from the front, but unfortunately to no avail. :(

An 1830s bedroom

with a lovely white regency gown in it.

A Victorian Shaker's house

Beautiful shawl

Pennsylvania German room

18th century lady - I can't remember which room she graced!!

c. 1830 Greek Revival room.

Bedroom from the civil war era.

After I finished touring the house, I went into the garden to watch the reenactment.

The house from the garden.

It was more of a demonstration than a battle, but it was interesting.

Though I have to admit that I was quite disappointed. One of my favourite parts of reenactment is the living history part, and for some reason there wasn't really a historical campsite at this event. I went all over the grounds looking for it but all I found were a couple of tents with nothing in them :( 

Marching back after the battle.

I would definitely recommend the museum. It was very interesting insight into American social history, and also had an amazing collection of patchwork quilts.

Next: More on the Festival