Dumfries House

I first read about Dumfries House last year, when I heard that the house and contents were to be sold at auction.  Being me, I was very saddened to hear it, it sounded such a special place.  Also being me, I then put my fingers in my ears and sang loudly so I didn’t hear what happened.

So, I am now pleasantly surprised to report, that the house and contents were saved for the nation, and are now opening to the public.  Woo hoo!

You can read the news story here, and the house website is here.  Another one added to the list methinks…

The Steam Weekend Was Bat-tastic

Forgot to warn everyone that there is an annual weekend of vintage steam engines etc every June at the castle. But, I thought that the fans would know, so that’s ok.

We started Saturday off with a wedding. We don’t normally do weddings the same weekends as big events, but it was what the bride wanted, so she was forewarned. It was a ceremony only, so by mid-afternoon the bride and groom were married and off, and we could put the furniture back in the Great Hall for the steam widows and/or orphans to view. It was a great day, lots of interested visitors. I even managed a quick peek at the engines myself, it was great fun. I know my dad would have loved it.

For Sunday we were not so fortunate. The rain was absolutely terrible, and it prevented a lot of visitors coming. The other unfortunate thing was that the engines and other vehicles couldn’t move around on the events field outside because of the muddy conditions. Sadly, this meant that neither of us saw many people, and the weekend finished pretty early.

The highlight of my weekend anyway, was the fact that a bat was found in the China Room of the castle. I knew that we had Long-eared bats living in the Barracks (Attic), but we also have Pipistrelles living in the eaves of an out building. One of them, we think, must have fallen down the chimney in the night, and was lying on the window sill. After we called one of our park Rangers out to check on it, it soon warmed up, and we were able to release it back to the roof of the building, where I’m pleased to say, it made it’s own way home.  I still wonder if it was a baby one.

Never having met a bat before, I was amazed at how small this breed is. So tiny, and so cute, when the Ranger picked it up it squeaked at her in warning showing it’s tiny teeth! Yeah, you and whose army, I say! Needless to say, I am now a bat fan.

How was your weekend?!

Cyd Charisse

For those of you that haven’t noticed already, I’m a classic film fan!  I especially love musicals too.

I was sad to hear that Cyd Charisse died today, though she did make it to the grand old age of 86, so she didn’t do too badly.

There are a few musicals I like to watch her dance in, but bizarrely, I like to see her dancing in the Broadway Melody sequence in Singin’ in the Rain (which is also one of my top favourites.)  I also love the hairstyle and the green flapper dress – right up my street.  When I was in my early twenties I had my hair cut in a twenties style just like Louise Brooks’.

Bizarrely, because the sequence is my least favourite part of the film.  But hey, here’s to you Cyd:

True Blood, Or Have You Read Charlaine Harris?

There’s hope yet for us Vamp TV addicts!

I started reading Charlaine Harris’ Southern Vampire tales, aka the Sookie Stackhouse books years ago (when they first came out in the US) starting with Dead Until Dark.

I just recently heard that a TV show called True Blood is being made of the series of books!  It has already been picked up by HBO, and I understand shows are currently being made starring Anna Paquin as Sookie ( a waitress) and Stephen Moyes as her vampire boyfriend Bill Compton.  It premieres in the US in September.

Let’s hope it has more luck than the last ones!  Anyhow, I definitely recommend reading the books, even if we never get to see the show.

Charlaine Harris’ website

Any Foyle’s War Fans?

I love Foyle’s War.  Or should I say loved…the final series just showed recently.  I’m not normally a fan of WWII dramas, but Michael Kitchen is just a fantastic actor, and really sold Foyle to me.

At the moment, I’m watching all of series one again on DVD, and hope to acquire the others in time.  If you haven’t seen it, you’re in for a treat.

In the meantime, you can visit the website here, and there’s talk of a peacetime spin-off show.  Yippee!

A Walk By the River

On Thursday we ended up in Huntly, which is quite a large town not too far from where we live. For me, it has the particular distinction of Huntly Castle. I’ve pictured the ruins here before.

We had a wander past the castle with some ice-cream, very civilized I tell you, then found ourselves in the parkland. It was such a hot day we stopped by the river for a paddle.

It was such a hot day, which is fairly unusual here as you get the sea breezes, that I documented our walk, which ended up right the way down the river. Watch out for swimming dogs (when river walking that is)!

All images copyright 2008 Alison Lodge

Give My Apologies to Georgette

Whilst I promised, and didn’t, forget about the Georgette Heyer Book Club I talked about aeons ago, I still haven’t found the time to sort something out for it.

I was reminded about this as I’ve been leafing through a book I’ve had for a few years which other Heyer fans may like.

The book is called Georgette Heyer’s Regency World by Jennifer Kloester.  I really enjoy leafing through it from time to time, it covers everything from costume to travel and has some great illustrations too.  My only criticism, is that it (obviously) only focuses on the Regency books, and I would have liked to see a book that covered the earlier period books, though not necessarily the medieval and Elizabethan ones.  May be going a bit far!

Anyhow, I have a slight urge to start re-reading her books, so if anyone wants to join me, just let me know and we will start from the top!

I have been making some notes of other authors that readers may like from this period too.  I shall keep you posted.

Children’s Books?

Just a quick shout for help here.  Don’t worry it’s not painful.

I’ve decided to get the nephews some books to read on holiday.  They love things like the Astrosaurs, but I am looking for other good series to keep them amused on the journey.

Any good recommendations?  They are six, but have been reading books for a reading age of ten, so that’s not a huge problem.  Thanks :mrgreen:

How About This One Then – But There’s a Twist to the Tale

Many of you agreed that we should buy Tillycairn Castle.  Hey guys, I’m still waiting for the mortgage money!

I was amazed to see another beautiful historic property up for sale this soon, and so beautifully restored it made the news…though sadly not for the right reasons.

Apethorpe Hall, Northamptonshire was actually bought from it’s last owner with a compulsory purchase order.  It had basically been left to rot over about a 20 year period and potentially could have been re-developed.  Yay, you may think the government stepped in, saved it and restored it.  All good so far.

The twist is that British taxpayers footed the 7.6m bill, and it is now up for sale for just 4m.  The new owners, should they purchase, will still have a large amount of work to do, but the taxpayer who saved this property will only have access to see it for 28 days a year, for 21 years.  Is it just me, or does this just seem wrong?

Certainly more pricey than Tillycairn.  I want that one.

Interesting History Stuff You May Have Missed…

I do keep tabs on interesting history articles that come up in the news, but often forget to mention them here.  Two in particular caught my eye in the past week or so.

Firstly, about Elizabeth I, and secondly Shakespeare.  A postive orgy of Elizabethan stuff…had to mention them both together.

  • A rare portrait of Elizabeth has been unearthed at Boughton House, Northamptonshire.  Rare because there are only 2 other known portaits in existence of Elizabeth before she became queen.  The extra good news is that the portrait is on display to the public so we can all go and see it!

You can read the full article at the BBC News page, and find more information about the Duke of Buccleuch’s residence at Boughton House.

  • Interesting Shakespeare information being that his tomb is due to be restored despite his curse!  It is said that anyone disturbing the tombstone will receive a curse for their trouble.  Rather them than me I say…

Again, you can read the full article here.  I visited Stratford Upon Avon years ago, quite fancy going back to Shakespeare’s birthplace one of these days.  I don’t think I’ve made it to Boughton House either, looks beautiful.

I’ve been going through all my information in order to write about the historic places I’ve been, and perhaps some of you would like to go to.  Hope to do this soon.