Wednesday 15 August 2012

National Trust Property: Canons Ashby

On a wet Friday in July, The Velveteen Viking and I set off to Canons Ashby, a beautiful village in Northamptonshire between the M1 and M40 with a delightful tea room and National Trust shop.

Our main reason for going was to attend a writing workshop led by local author, Judith Alnatt which was held in Canons Ashby House: an Elizabethan manor house with beautiful gardens which have been authentically restored from Sir Henry Dryden's records.

The house was built by the Dryden family and updated in the eighteenth century and again in the nineteenth century by Sir Henry Dryden and it is his life, and that of his wife Frances and daughter, Alice which fills the house. It is still the Dryden family's home, but the public rooms are fascinating and the guides welcoming, knowledgeable and informative.

Unfortunately we didn't take a camera, but you can view the photographs and see lots of what a visit to the house has to offer on the National Trust Website (click here to view)

On the first floor the rooms are fascinating, one, Spencer's Room, has Elizabethan wall paintings which were discovered behind 18th century panelling.

At the other end of the Long Gallery is Alice's Room and the Nursery. The Gallery and some rooms have photograph albums containing the work of Alice Dryden, only child of Sir Henry and Frances (apparently he wanted a boy so that the house could stay in the family on his death so when Alice was born, he is said to have sacked the female servants, but his wife reinstated them when he had calmed down).  Father and daughter became very close and Alice did marry, but had no children. Alice's room has a gorgeous four-poster bed and looks out over the gardens. the Nursery is full of unusual and incredibly interesting toys, not least a puppet theatre,a racing game and a Zoetrope

Downstairs on the ground floor is the Great Hall which leads to the Dining Room where an array of portraits hang. The book room is more than a Library, it was originally the Billiard Room, but Sir Henry converted it and as he was a keen gardener, he kept his gardening tools in there too. From the Book Room you can walk into Sir Henry's Museum. Also from the Great Hall you can go to the Servants' Hall where amazing symbolic artwork can be seen as well as the original table. The kitchen still has all the bells connected to the 'upstairs' rooms and you can exit via an incredibly well-stocked wine cellar.

The tea room is delightful (and very busy). It was a treat to be offered a cheese scone with a bowl of soup or a bread roll. If you do visit and stay for a cuppa, make sure you take two small milk jugs as there isn't enough milk in one!

Since visiting Canons Ashby I have written a poem in Alice's voice after spending time in her Room:

           Looking through the lens

Looking through the lens
To a time remembered here
Centuries passed
Since once I sat

Looking through the lens
From my window, I saw him
Passioned with purpose
My love, astride his horse

Looking through the lens
I could not bear to linger
Anxiously hoping
Father would offer:

Looking through the lens
Along the Gallery, I ran
Destiny sealed
They’re in the garden 

Looking through the lens
We stood amongst the trees
Captured memories
A blessing he gave

Looking through the lens
Our lives to be as one
Plated images
John and Alice Marcon

Looking through the lens
To a lifetime of imagery
Country crafts
Houses and gardens

Sunday 12 August 2012

London, Amsterdam, Brussels, Manchester - clever ladies

Congratulations to Jacqui Moore, Mel Plehov and Eve Joseph on their fantastic achievements in tremendous fundraising for such worthy charities.

The Three Cities Cycle Challenge: 340 miles across Europe took commitment, hard work and great determination.

Jacqui's cycle challenge was to raise money for The Daylight Centre - an independent, local charity based in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire which provides friendship and support for adults in need. The Mission of the Daylight Centre is to offer time, space and practical guidance to people which enables them to tackle the problems that limit their quality of life. Please take a moment to click on the link to see what valuable work they do.

Jacqui says: "337 miles ridden, 26 hours and 45 minutes in the saddle, 3 countries conquered, gorgeous weather, great friends made, lots of beer and cider consumed, far too many carbs eaten, a brilliant crew and a fab route (well done Sky Line!). Despite numerous injuries and pain, we spent every single metre of this journey in the saddle and for this I am immensely proud.

Jacqui raised A WHOPPING
Well Done Jacqui
Mel's (Mis) Adventure was to raise funds for the MS Trust 

Not content with the 3 Cities Challenge with Jacqui, she also decided to undertake the Great Manchester Swim with Eve to boost the funds.

Would you?
Mel's final total for the MS Trust:
So, Mel and Jacqui have, between them, raised a fantastic
£4,059    for two great charities.

Eve (is she mad?), however, is undertaking a triathlon to raise £750  for Medical Detection Dogs  
She will:
1 - Swim in the Great Manchester Swim - in the style of Ian Thorp...

Mel, Eve and Brillo

2 - Walk the Yorkshire 3 Peaks - in the style of Paula Radcliffe...on a rest day! :)

3 - Cycle 100 miles in a day - in the syle of Mark Cavendish

 Wouldn't it be brilliant if the three girls' total could reach £5,000? - watch this space (and eve still needs sponsors)

Saturday 4 August 2012

Great Manchester Swim


Not content with cycling 340 miles across Europe,:London to Harwich, Harwich to Hook of Holland (on a Ferry, not cycling), Hook of Holland to Amsterdam, Amsterdam to Turnhout and finally,Turnhout to Brussels, all in four days (see London to Brussels, July 2012), Mel set out to swim the one mile of cold water which is the Salford Keys. She doesn't take any prisoners, but she does cajole others into taking part, and so she was joined by Eve Joseph and Brillo Hill for this gruelling swim.

Famous faces were evident (Jessica Ennis)

They then slipped into something a little less comfortable for the event:

And squeezed into some unflattering headgear
Don't they look fab?

Come on in, the water's lovely

Can you spot them? They are wearing purple hats!

You can see some of the action if you click here

And the end is nigh:


The statistics:

Brillo:     393rd  in 27 minutes and 50 seconds
Mel:       543rd  in 29 minutes and 14 seconds
Eve:     1543rd  in 38 minutes and 12 seconds 
(notice how there was a 3rd in all their positions?)
Out of over 3,000 participants, they did brilliantly.