When we first moved into our new house we were delighted by the number of fireplaces ( actually its only 4 ) in the rooms. They have all been put in as a part of the retro fit but are in fact original fireplaces ( from someone else’s house) and would have been the sort of fire that would have been here originally. We have two other chimneys, one in the bedroom has been blocked off and the other one in the kitchen has the range cooker attached ( is that the right word?). Originally that would have presumably been an earlier version of a range cooker, but not oil as ours is. It might have been something like these.
Having an open fire is all very well, if inefficient, but it is all the palaver that goes with an open fire that you don’t think about initially. For instance, all the chimneys have to be swept, even the ones you are not having a fire in, or else you get damp. The chimney pots have to be seen to as well. Where we live we have about half a dozen resident Jackdaws so we have to ensure that the chimneys are covered with metal covers or ‘top hats’, if not they will nest in them. I thought we had only two chimney pots when we bought the house but in fact we have 5.
We have a very ugly coal bunker in the back garden but at least it is next to the back gate. We have been toying with getting rid of it but now the frosty snowy days are here it is coming into its own. Luckily Hyw made a new top for it and now it holds our winter fuel. This is a picture of it in the summer, when we first moved in.
Here are the other 3 fireplaces, the kitchen, the spare room and our bedroom.
Supper is over now so I can continue with my blog. Day two we had to ourselves. We had been given directions from Matt on the best way to get to Bow as we wanted to catch an exhibition, curated by Michael Rosen of a group of East London artists who were essentially untrained. The exhibition was at the Nunnery Gallery bowarts.org and was very well worth going to see. Matt claimed that Bow was a very ‘edgy’ part of town but I found it perfectly ok, especially as that’s where I grew up.
These are two paintings from the show
We then headed into central London as I hadn’t been to the National Gallery recently. We had lunch in a pub, not far from Leicester Square and then headed off for Trafalgar Square. There were a number of new acquisitions as well as quite a few paintings on loan to the gallery. Of course there were the old favourites but we were also lucky enough to see a collection of Degas pastels on loan from the Burrell and a small show of Akseli Gallen-Kallela paintings.
We headed back up to Bounds Green on the Piccadilly Line and arrived home about 5pm. That evening we went out to a cafe/restaurant nearby and then afterwards we went to a Greek Cypriot restaurant where they were supposed to be having Karioke ( they weren’t ) but they were celebrating someone’s birthday so there was much singing anyway.
The next day we left the flat about 10.30 as we weren’t going to rush but when we got to Bounds Green the trains weren’t running as there was a signal failure. A young girl helpfully told us go to Finsbury Park and catch a train on another line but in fact when we got there Finsbury Park was closed too. So onto another bus and eventually we arrived at Kings Cross. This meant that our plans to visit the Wellcome Collection had to be abandoned as there was not time. I waited in St Pancras with the bags and Hyw took Matt his keys.
There wasn’t even time to have lunch so I nipped into Marks and Spencer for sandwiches, we had a quick glass of wine and then onto the train for home. The journey was very smooth and relatively quick, sun for most of the way but dark by the time we reached Durham.
Despite my fears, the road to Berwick was frost free, which was just as well as we left at 7:15 am to be sure of getting a parking space. Needless to say it all went smoothly and we were soon heading south on a Virgin train. I was more or less glued to the window, as being my first trip, there were lots of new sights to take in. Newcastle looked as if it was made by giants, the buildings and bridges seemed terribly big and lumpen. Durham looked very small, like a model village and sadly, you don’t see much of York except for the station. The sun was shining for most of the way so we were really seeing the country at its best.
Matt met us at Kings Cross as we were having lunch with the O’Hares and didn’t have a lot of time to spare. We had a very jolly meal in the Starting Gates, a pub near Matthew and Maureen’s new flat. After the lunch we went back to the flat, the O’Hares were off to London City airport and M and M were going to see Stuart Lee. We had the place to ourselves and watched films!
I have to stop now as supper is ready…
Matt and Maureen’s flat
The Yetholm Shepherds Show is the last in the season and it is here that the Shepherds crook is selected to go forward to the National competition. There were hundreds of crooks to chose from and I can’t say that I understood what was being looked for, they all looked as splendid as each other, but here are some of the ones I liked…
There were also these old motor bikes and vintage cars, Dad would have liked them. All in all it was a good day and by the time the crowds had arrived, it was bright and sunny. Of course the stars of the show were the sheep!
Mark was staying at the cottage for a week so he dined with us several times and I took him back to Berwick as he had not been able to rent a car on this occasion. Justin also came to stay for a few days, having had a visit to his old friends and then touring around the west coast.
Nice as it was to have Visitors it was good when life returned to normal and we could start painting the cottage, with our new ladder. Still a bit to do but the weather should be more settled later this week so two days should see it done.
Beer in Cologne is sold in small glasses, 0.2litre. They don’t ask what you want, virtually as soon as you take a seat a waiter is upon you and before you can say ‘what would you like’ to your partner you are presented with a beer each and the waiter has turned a Beer mat over and made two strikes on it. It is not that they are pushy, it’s just what they expect you to want. As soon as your glass is empty another is placed before you and this goes on until you take a Beer mat and place it on top of your empty glass. The waiters work for the self so obviously it is in their interest to keep you topped up. They carry the beer in circular trays with a handle and you can fit about fifteen beers in them so there is no problem catering for the large groups that came in after their days work. Of course you can have other beers but most places sell the Kölsch Beer and certainly it is the most popular.
After a delicious breakfast in the museum cafe we went straight to the top floor and on entering the gallery were confronted with a wall full of Caillbottes, my favourite artist.
After seeing so many excellent 19 and 20 century paintings the other floors really needed to be seen another day but their were some good Flemish paintings, and some Frans Hals portraits which were very fine.
After lunch we went to the Design museum, sadly the 20 century department was closed but there was some lovely glassware so not a wasted journey.
We were quite frankly by this time, all Cologned out so we headed back to our hotel.
The next morning saw us up bright and early and making our way to the airport. We kept the sun with us and although we were there too early it was a very pleasant airport and easy to get around. Our flight was on time and for the first time we weren’t flying back to Bristol but Edinburgh. It felt very strange to be driving along the ring round looking out for signs to Jedburgh etc.
We were back nice and early so I was able to rescue Flora from the cattery that evening. It felt good to be home.
Whenever you are in European cities you need to plan for Mondays as all the museums are closed. We decided on a day of shopping, we being the worlds worst shoppers, but we tried our best and went to the Apple Store to look at the latest purchase Gwil has made and marvelled at the lederhosen in the department store. Other than that we drooped around town, stopping for lunch ( unexceptional but pleasant) and beer, on the way back to the hotel.