Leens, farm worker’s house, Netherlands

Way back in June last year we visited my brother and his wife in the Netherlands. Their neighbours suggested that we should visit the Burg at nearby Leens, so on a lovely sunny and warm day we did just that. You can see my previous posts on the Burg here and  here.  After visiting the rather grand house we went for a walk around the surrounding farmland and decided to visit the farm worker’s house which we could see in the distance. I’ve been to loads of stately homes in the UK but I don’t ever recall any of them also having a farm worker’s house that you could look inside. I suspect that most of the small estate houses in the UK have been modernised and rented out to holidaymakers.

labourer's cottage , Leens, Netherlands

Leens, labourer's cottage , Netherlands

labourer's cottage , Leens, Netherlands


labourer's cottage, Leens, Netherlands

Honestly, I would quite happily have moved in. The rectangular box in front of the chair in the photo below is lined with metal and you put hot coals in it and put your feet on it with your long dress draped over it, too keep your feet and legs toasty!

labourer's cottage , Leens, Netherlands

The wee house is surrounded by farmland, and the formal gardens of the Burg, as you can see below. It’s a beautiful area, despite there being no hills!

Burg, Leens, Topiary, Netherlands

This is a photo of the outside of the worker’s cottage. (Copied from the Burg’s website.)



Robert Burns Cottage Garden, Alloway, Ayrshire

It ‘s quite a while now since we visited Robert Burns’s birthplace and I meant to blog about the garden soon after blogging about the cottage here, but I’m just getting around to it now.

Burns’ father planned to have a smallholding and market garden here but the plan didn’t quite come to fruition. You can walk around the area now and admire the wicker structures.

Smallholding, Burns's Cottage, Alloway

Below is a different type of ‘wicker man’.

Garden at Burns cottage Alloway, Ayrshire

Below is a wicker Tam O’Shanter on his horse Meg. Really well done I think.

Tam O'Shanter

And there’s a more formal topiary garden that you can walk around too.

Robert Burns cottage garden, Alloway, Ayrshire1

It doesn’t take long to go around the cottage and gardens but the entrance price also includes entry into a very modern Robert Burns Museum and Centre not far away, and that is very interesting, and has a good cafe!

Robert Burns cottage garden, topiary, Alloway, Ayrshire

The Night Watch by Rembrandt

We’ve been to the Netherlands quite a lot as I have a brother who has lived there for decades, but we had never been to Amsterdam and Jack and I were both fed up having to tell people we hadn’t been there as it seems that that is the only place people visit in NL. So we rectified that a few weeks ago and took the train to Amsterdam from Friesland, a two and a half hour journey. We were heading for The Rijksmuseum, around a 30 minute walk from the railway station, everybody else seemed to be a tourist too!

We wanted to see everything at the museum and we DID see everything, but we especially wanted to see Rembrandt’s The Night Watch, and look what we saw when we got there!

Rembrandt's Night Watch, Rijksmuseum

At the moment most of the very large painting is covered with machinery and gadgets which are apparently measuring the vibrations of the canvas. It’s thought that tiny vibrations in the atmosphere are damaging it.

It’s just typical – when we went to see Chatsworth part of it was covered with scaffolding, see the photo below.

Chatsworth House

The famous bridge at Ironbridge was likewise obscured the first time we went there.

Iron Bridge at Ironbridge

And of course when we sailed to the Bay of Biscay it was an absolute flat calm when it’s well known for being rough, something that I was looking forward to. I’m strange that way, I don’t like fairground attractions, just looking at them makes me feel sick but I’m never sea-sick.

Bernat Klein exhibition – National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh

Last week we went to Edinburgh to visit the Bernat Klein exhibition at the National Museum of Scotland. It was welll worth the trip, and the long walk from Meadowbank where we had to park the car, well it helps to keep us fit I suppose. The exhibition isn’t huge, but it is interesting, I love his use of colour. It’s a free exhibition but if you can’t get there you can see some of it online here.

If you click on the photos of the other galleries you can see lots more of interest.

Kirbuster Museum, Orkney, Scotland

Kirbuster Farm Building, museum, Orkney, Scotland

Orkney isn’t all about Neolithic and Viking heritage, we visited the Kirbuster Museum which is about far more recent times, it was a farm in the 19th century and was occupied and farmed by two brothers up until the 1960s. It was opened up as a farm museum in 1986 and it’s the last un-restored ‘firehoose’ in Northern Europe, with the fire being in the centre of the room. It certainly smells very peat smoky.

The bedroom in the photo below has a Victorian cot at the foot of the bed, the quilt in it is exactly the same as two that I have!

Kirbuster Museum, Victorian bedroom, Orkney,Bed

Kirbuster Museum, bedroom, Orkney, farm museum

The living-room, or maybe they called it the parlour below is very typical of a Victorian one, complete with harmonium. I managed to capture a very sinister looking Jack in the mirror above the harmonium, complete with face mask on!

Kirbuster Museum, Orkney,Harmonium

Fireplace , Mantel, Kirbuster Museum, Orkney

Below is a box-bed in a bed-recess which is in the kitchen. I suppose that the children probably slept in those, or maybe a servant/farmhand. The walls don’t look that different from how the Neolithic dwellings would have looked in their heyday.

Bed Recess, box beds, Kirbuster Museum, Orkney

You can see a cruisie lamp hanging from the wall.

Kitchen Dresser, Kirbuster Museum, Orkney

And there’s a building full of old farm implements, we had fun trying to guess what some of them were for. We swithered about going to visit Kirbuster Museum but it turned out to be a very enjoyable visit, we had the whole place to ourselves, which was a shame really. I hope they get more visitors in the future. The guide was a lovely woman who was chatty and informative. I hope she had something to occupy her time as she was the only person there and it must be a lonely job!

Kirbuster Museum, Orkney, Farm Implements

Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle – again – a quilt exhibition

Bowes museum, Barnard Castle,

One of the reasons we visited the Sunderland area so quickly again was because we discovered too late that there was a quilt exhibition on there, we had to go home before we could see it. So we drove back down there before the exhibition ended in late November. As you can see from the photo above the museum is very grand, and built in the French style as the architect was French.

The top floor of the museum housed the quilts. When I think of quilts from the North-East of England it’s the one piece of fabric Durham quilts which are decorated with all over stitching that I envisage, so I was surprised that they also have what they call strippy quilts. The quilts date mainly from the early 20th century.

north-east Quilts, Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle

And the more traditional patchwork quilts. I must admit that I started to make a patchwork quilt about 40 years ago, using hexagons, I didn’t get very far with it and bits are still languishing at the bottom of one of my many craft baskets!

Quilts, Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle

So I am filled with awe when I see patchwork quilts, I suspect that they would be easier to make if it was a communal effort though.

Quilts, Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle

The quilts below are proper Durham quilts – I believe. No patching together but still an awful lot of sewing involved.

Durham Quilts , Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle

Below is an intricate quilt design and matching curtain. Pink,blue and orange seem to have been very popular colours, I suppose they brightened up what was otherwise quite a dark existence.

Patchwork Quilts, Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle

Patchwork Quilts, Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle

I must admit that I thought that the exhibition would have been bigger than it was, but it was worth seeing and there is an interesting permanent exhibition of period women’s clothing from the 16th century to Mary Quant and Laura Ashley. I took lots of photos of the clothes, but they have all disappeared from the camera somehow, quite spooky really.

The Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle, County Durham, England

When we visited Glamis Castle (childhood home of the Queen Mother who was a Bowes Lyon) a couple of months ago it led to us planning a visit to The Bowes Museum which was set up by relatives of hers.

The museum’s most famous artefact is a pure silver automaton swan which dates from 1772, it’s a replica of a female mute swan. If you just want to see her moving you can skip to 4.50 on the You Tube video below. The swan catches a silver fish and eats it, but of course swans don’t eat fish as they are vegetarians! The silver work is amazing though.

You can read more about the museum here.

Beamish Folk Museum, County Durham, N.E. England

We visited the Beamish Folk Museum in County Durham – north east England in June last year and I could have sworn that I had done several blogposts about it soon after the visit, but it seems that I didn’t get around to it. Either that or the computer has somehow deleted all evidence of them. It could just be that as I have a habit of writing blogposts in my head while I’m doing mundane things around the house and garden in the daytime – I never did get around to actually writing any. It’s a mystery, anyway, if you remember Beamish blogposts and I’m being repetitive – sorry! I did do one, though!

Just as we got into Beamish we could see a big crowd of people, some dressed in period clothing and it transpired that we were lucky enough to be there at the start of a procession which was making its way to a new 1950s part of the folk museum which was just being opened for the first time. The north-east of England was a coalmining area, so the old miners’ banners were being given an airing, something which doesn’t happen often nowadays I suppose as there are no miners left to march with them. The banners themselves are works of art.

Miners' Banner, Beamish

Every coalmine had its own band. Given the state that their lungs must have been in it’s amazing that they had the puff for the brass and silver bands. Fife was a coalmining county and some of the bands are still going, years after the last mine has been closed down permanently. I must say that the ones I’ve heard have been very melodic.

Procession, Beamish

For some reason a flotilla of old-fashioned prams – or perambulators if you want to be fancy were taking part in the parade. I love these Silver Cross type enamelled prams, it was the type I was wheeled about in as a youngster, not that I remember it. In those days kids travelled in real style. They must have been much comfier and cosier than modern day buggies.

old prams, Beamish Folk Museum

After that we took a trip on a tram, a couple of different steam trains and an ancient bus.

Trams, old bus, Beamish Folk Museum

Trams, Beamish Folk Museum

We certainly got our money’s worth on that day out!

Beamish Folk Museum, County Durham, England

We are members of lots of arty and historical organisations such as the National Trust, Scottish Heritage, Friends of the Edinburgh Galleries and such AND we got annual passes to Beamish folk museum when we visited there last year, it’s situated near Stanley in County Durham. We were sure we would go back as we had such a good time there but we didn’t manage to get there as planned at Christmas and after the winter it didn’t open because of the Covid-19 situation of course. Anyway it turns out that I didn’t blog about it although I could have sworn that I did. Here are some of the photos I took. In the beginning Beamish was just farmland, you can read about the history of the place here. The buildings have all been moved to the site brick by brick and stone by stone to be saved for posterity rather than being demolished.

Beamish, Church + from waggonway

There are all sorts of buildings there, below is Pockersley Hall which has a lovely chocolate box garden.

Pockersley Hall, Beamish, County Durham, folk museum

A teeny wee thatched cottage, this photo was taken from an ancient steam train as we were riding on it.

thatched cottage, Beamish from waggonway

And this is the train we were on, I remember seeing illustrations of a train like this one when I was ‘doing’ the Industrial Revolution at school, I never thought I’d actually have a trip on one!

Puffing Billy and train, Beamish, County Durham

You can go inside all the buildings, a few of them I would quite happily have lived in.

Farm terrace, Beamish, County Durham

Volunteers are on hand, living the life, rolling out pastry or whatever and answering questions.

1930s fireplace, Beamish, County Durham

Actually it all seemed very homely to me as most of the ‘stuff’ was very similar to the furniture that we had had to get rid of when we downsized to a more modern and manageable house – all of six years ago now. I looked at a Victorian bed chest and could have sworn it had been ours! And the gate below is exactly the same as the back gate of the 1930s house that I grew up in, except ours was in better condition and painted rural green.

1930s gate, Beamish, County Durham, folk museum

1930s chairs, Beamish, County Durham, folk museum

Do you remember those halcyon days when we didn’t have to worry about crowds and social distancing? Below is the queue for the working bakery at Beamish but we didn’t bother to join the queue, it looked like they might run out of stuff to sell anyway! I was really taking the photo of the lovely Edwardian?Victorian window. There’s also an old sweetie shop selling authentic sweets, we DID queue up for that one. Indian Limes anyone? They were delicious.

Beamish, Edwardian  windows,

We hope we’ll be able to visit again – sometime.

Pockersley Hall from road, Beamish, folk museum, County Durham

The V&A at Dundee

V&A Sign, Dundee

We’ve been to the V&A at Dundee a couple of times now since it opened recently, the second time we had hoped that it wouldn’t be quite so busy – but it was. I think it’ll be quite some time before the visitor numbers settle down a wee bit. Below is a close up of one of the walls so you can see how curvaceous it is. We’ve watched this building grow very slowly for years and it seemed at times that it would never be finished so it’s no surprise that people have been chewing at the bit to get into it.

Exterior Curve, V&A Dundee

In parts it overhangs the River Tay and I’m not sure if it’s meant to be inspired by a ship or Scottish cliffs, or a conglomeration of both. Dundee was famous for shipbuilding in the past. It looks like a perfect nesting place for seabirds of which there are plenty around here, but apparently they are being kept at bay by the use of sonar.
Overhanging River Tay, V&A Dundee

The weather in Dundee does get pretty wild at times so I hope that the planting has been chosen for hardiness. I think it’s supposed to be prairie planting. It’ll be interesting to see if it survives.
Exterior Planting , V&A Dundee

The interior is definitely different with this angled slatted shingle effect which is reminiscent of an old ship.
V&A Interior

V&A Interior

V&A Interior,  Dundee
The staircase is elegant I think.
V&A Interior ,staircase, Dundee

I’m not sure if the stone of the floors and stairs is natural or some kind of man made substitute, but it looks like it has all sorts of fossils embedded in it.

Interior Stairs, V&A Dundee

V&A Interior floor, Dundee

If you want to see more photos you should click over to Jack’s post here.