Saturday 29 August 2015

Stop the clock!

August proclaims
 a poignant reminder, 
that I am one year older,
age like summer marches relentlessly on

Travelling to northern India and Kashmir during April diverted attention from the garden

No seed trays prepared
or young plants nurtured 
nothing to plant out in the garden
Would there be regrets?

no runner beans, 

Blue Ensign Convolvulus

or Morning Glories
Not to be defeated
A dash around the garden during May
scattering seeds hither and thither,
in pots and on the ground
all was not lost, most seeds appear to have flourished
The success of this experience will most likely
herald a different routine henceforth in the garden - after all I am one year older!

Thursday 27 August 2015

Country House at War - Part 2

Walter Horace Samuel, 2nd Viscount Bearsted, owned the merchant bank, M. Samuel & Company and was Chairman of Shell Oil. He was a generous philanthropist, and a prominent art collector. His home, Upton House, housed an art collection to rival many national collections.
As mentioned in Part 1 he and his wife moved out of their home, Upton House, at the outbreak of war, and the staff working for his merchant bank moved in. To mark the 70th anniversary of the ending of WWll, the National Trust have recreated the atmosphere in the house that existed when the bank staff lived and worked there.
The 'Typing Pool' was housed in the Long Gallery
where nostalgic music and songs from the war years added to the atmosphere
May be this was Joe's Air Raid Warden outfit!
These bronze medallions, which are the size of dinner plates, were created by Austrian born Jewish sculptor Professor Arthur Immanuel Loewental. He fled to England in 1934 from Berlin, and Lord Bearsted was one of those who helped him to establish himself and obtain British nationality in 1941
On the home front knitting socks for the 'boys' began in ernest
Bedroom used by the male bank staff
Female bank staff bedroom

Lord Bearsted served in the WWl with the West Kent Yeomanry. He was decorated with the Military Cross, Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal showing oak leaf spray on the ribbon meaning he was mentioned in despatches. In WWll he had a secret role using the code named K; he never divulged his mission.
As war progressed Lord Bearsted became increasingly concerned for the safety of his valuable painting collection; the building of an RAF station at nearby Shenington was a great worry to him. He wrote a letter to Kenneth Clark, the then Director of the National Gallery, asking if his paintings could be placed alongside the national collection in a secret disused slate quarry. In the light of his service to the gallery and the importance of his collection the request was accepted. The location in Wales was top secret, but his paintings remained safe for the duration of the war in a chamber alongside paintings belonging to the King.
Off into the secret location they go
to be kept safe until the end of the war
Three paintings from Lord Bearsted's collection

El Greco - 'El espollo' - the Disrobing of Christ  - showing the drama of the poignant moment when Christ stands on Cavalry whilst his cross is being prepared for his Crucifixion; his scarlet robe is about to be ripped off. In the bottom lefthand corner stand the three Marys
This is a smaller version of the same painting seen in Toledo Cathedral, Spain, where it hangs in the Sacristy above a marble altar
Follower of Fra Filippo Lippi - Three Acts of Charity
On the Day of Judgement, people would be judged according to the acts of charity they had carried out in their lifetime. In the first scene on the left, Christ, as the unknown stranger, is handed drink; in the second he is handed food; and in the third he is offered shelter
Puccio di Simone also known as Master of the Fabriano Altarpiece - The Last Supper
Christ is sitting at the left hand end of the table and St. John rests his head on his lap. He has just spoken the words 'But, behold, the hand of him that betrayeth me is with me on the table'. Judas (shown without a halo) raises his hands in protest.
To finish this is Lady Bearsted's glamorous red and silver Art Deco bathroom 
The bathroom walls are covered in a fine layer of aluminium leaf

Monday 24 August 2015

Family came......

it was hot, and humid, debilitating temperatures were blowing up from southern Europe
a thinly veiled mist hung across the valley bottom 
not so, on our hilltop eerie, where skies were clear. We strolled hoping for respite and cooler air, but the caressing breezes felt warm

Suddenly thunderous clouds rolled in, then just as quickly rolled out
I stooped to capture the small seeds of the thistle attached to pappus umbrellas of hairs acting like parachutes transporting them away to far distant corners. 
"What's that?" in the clump of thistles youngest son had heard a noise - a loud long continuous song sounding like a sewing machine in need of oil. An impossible insect to spot being blessed with perfect camouflage, unless you happen to catch his song. He starts his singing in the afternoon which continues throughout the night. Don't touch, he can give you a nasty bite.
This is the singing male 
A Great Green Bush-cricket - Tettigonia viridissima -
by far our largest Bush-cricket measuring about 4 - 5 cms long - bright green for camouflage with an orangey-brown stripe running the length of its body with long wings. In England only found in the southern half of the country - my first ever sighting
and this is the female presumably enamoured by his singing
 Look how well the male and female both blend in with the thistle stems and leaves

Saturday 22 August 2015

Country House At War! Part 1

War is declared, the year is 1939
The Bearsted family make the decision to move out of their country retreat, Upton House, nestling in the Cotswold countryside. The family own a merchant bank, M. Samuel & Co, but decide to move the bank into their home for the duration of the war. This is in order to protect both their staff and the banks assets from the threat of air-raids over London.
Giving their London home in Carlton Gardens to the nation, Lord and Lady Bearsted do not remove themselves to the safety of Upton House, but deliberately stay in London to help aid the war effort. 
Marking the 70th anniversary of the ending of WW11, the National Trust have recreated the atmosphere in the house that existed when the bank staff lived and worked in it. The Long Gallery has become a Typing Pool filled with office desks, and the bedrooms have been made over to show how the male and female bank staff were accommodated at that time
Before stepping inside the house let's follow the posters suggestion and explore their gardens 
which were visited at the end of May when everywhere was still looking lush and verdant 
The bank staff were well fed with vegetables, fruit and herbs from the garden along with berries and mushrooms foraged in the local woods
The walled garden sits on a sunny south facing slope
Part 2 - will be inside Upton House