Visit to Dunham Massey, National Trust

Dunham Massey, in Cheshire, is an Elizabethan country house and deer park that is now run by the National Trust.

An old watermill in the grounds has recently been restored and opened to the public.

The leaves on the trees were just beginning to turn as autumn approaches.

One of the old trees lying on the ground had a very striking bark pattern.

The Motor House

When the 9th Earl of Stamford took possession of Dunham Massey in 1905 he instructed the conversion of the stables into a ‘motor house’. At the time only 16,000 cars were registered in the country and motoring was a hobby enjoyed only by the wealthy.

The Morris Ten-Four on display was a 1935 model, owned by Roger Grey, 10th Earl of Stamford.

The stables were sympathetically remodelled to retain many of the original features and character of the buildings. I particularly liked the texture of the brick wall…

…and the beautiful high timber-framed ceiling.

Chris Ofili tapestry: The Caged Bird’s Song

I visited the National Gallery in London this week to see the tapestry triptych designed by Chris Ofili, called ‘Caged Bird’s Song’. Wow! I had watched the documentary on the BBC about the background to the tapestry commission and how it had been made and I still couldn’t believe what I was seeing. The ability to produce a tapestry that captured the effect of a watercolour painting was amazing to see.

Looking close-up at the caged bird, the effect was stunning; the varying hues and blends of colour created a real illusion of light and movement.

Woven at Dovecote Tapestry Studio, Edinburgh, a team of 10 weavers had spent two and a half years hand-weaving the tapestry. On display at the National Gallery in London from April to August it will be on permanent display at Clothworkers’ Hall.

Poppies: WAVE installation Southend-on-sea

Poppies:WAVE installation is one of two installations on tour around the UK in 2017 as part of the 14-18 NOW WW1 centenary art commissions.

Following on from the installation: Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red at the Tower of London in 2014, artist Paul Cummins and designer Tom Piper have now created Wave and Weeping Window. 

Shoeburyness is one of only two locations where the Poppies:WAVE installation can be viewed with a backdrop of the sea. The location was chosen as Southend-on-sea saw one of the first air-raid attacks on the UK during WW1 and Shoebury Garrison played an important role in the design and testing of artillery guns. 

Wave and Weeping Window are made up of thousands of hand made ceramic red poppies. The tour in 2017 includes Derby, Belfast, Cardiff, Hull and Plymouth.

Poppies:WAVE is at Barge Pier, Gunners Park, Shoeburyness, Southend-on-sea and will be on display from 12th April to 25th June 2017. For more information go to

Waverley Paddle Steamer Trip

For my mum’s birthday I booked a day trip on the Waverley Paddle Steamer, the last sea-going paddle steamer in the world! We left mid-afternoon from the end of Southend Pier, arriving at Tower Bridge in London just after sunset.

Photo: © Waverley Excursions Ltd

The Waverley was built on the Clyde in Scotland and was launched in 1947. After a long career she was bought for £1 in 1975 by the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society. She now makes regular pleasure trips around the UK throughout the year, which includes trips along the Thames.

It was fascinating to see the coastline and famous landmarks from a fresh perspective.

Tilbury Docks unloading a container ship…

The Queen Elizabeth II Bridge…

A view of the Docklands skyline in the distance…

The Thames Barrier…

The Millenium Dome…

Our first glimpse of the Shard and the City skyline at sunset…

Behind us was this stunning view of Canary Wharf, all lit up…

The Thames has many twists and turns on the approach to Tower Bridge, which can be very disorientating! Around the final bend we approached Tower Bridge, which opened to enable us to pass through…

…and under…

Wow! What a view!

Thank you Waverley. Until next year…

Trip to Lisbon

During May we went for a short break to Lisbon in Portugal. I’d been there once before for work and had really wanted to go back to explore it further. We stayed in a lovely boutique hotel with views from our balcony overlooking the river.


And as the hotel was high up, the views extended over the surrounding rooftops.


Walking around the streets I was amazed by the beauty of the many tiled buildings and the variety of patterns…






Even the streets were paved in pattern…



Built on seven hills the streets of Lisbon can be extremely steep. Trams are a great way to get around the city (if you can manage to squeeze in!)



And a visit to Lisbon is not complete (in my opinion) without a visit to Pasteis de Belem for their amazing custard tarts. The custard recipe is a well-kept secret and even the pastry makers don’t know it!