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After the colour, sunshine and variety of cultures that make up Singapore, coming back to a cold and frozen England was a bit of a shock – to say the least.

We had to leave Singapore last Saturday morning by the 7am plane – which meant getting up at 4am! Not my favourite time of day. My travel agent had insisted that Singapore Airlines wouldn’t be able to book the luggage all the way to London as there was an airline change in Bangkok to Eva Air. As this meant we would be hanging around in Bangkok airport for about 6 hours, I pointed out that the 10 o’clock plane from Singapore would still give us time for the changeover. And I also said that from past experience I knew that Singapore Airlines would direct the luggage all the way home. But I was overruled. Grrrr! So we had to wait for 2 hours in Bangkok until the Eva Air Evergreen Lounge opened in the morning, and a further 4 till the plane departed. Another Grrrr! Anyway, apart from a couple of hours of turbulence over the Himalayas and Afghanistan, we had a very comfortable flight home.

It’s as if I’ve not been away now that I’m back in the throes of painting Henley from the air. (Wish there weren’t so many houses here as it’s taking ages to paint them all). Sculpture class on Friday was interesting – apparently my clay head had frozen solid during my time away, but Shirley managed to save it from cracking. I’ve got a long way to go before the result approaches a good likeness.

On Wednesday I went for an Ultrasound Scan at our local Townlands Hospital to investigate a ‘clementine size’ moveable lump in my chest. It’s not been a great worry – more of an irritation. However, although the doctor said it was not ‘sinister’, her prognosis was summed up in one word – “I’m flummoxed!”

Saturday was a good day. I’d never been to Hampton Court Palace, so decided to spend the day there. Home of Henry VIII (and his wives)…

,,, and later William and Mary, I was quite overwhelmed by the size and magnificence of the place. There’s just so much to see.

I don’t normally go for a guided tour device, but those provided at the Palace were really good. The commentaries were highly informative, and they included a photograph of the room you were in as you progressed. The incredibly large kitchens became my first stop, and as it was a very cold day I tarried awhile by the big Tudor roasting fire after I took this picture.

I learned that buried beneath the Palace are remains of the first known house, built for the Knights Hospitallers of St. John sometime before 1338.The most beautiful room of all, in my opinion, is the Chapel Royal - still in active use today. In fact it’s been in continuous use ever since Thomas Wolsey built it almost 500 years ago. Henry VIII installed the magnificent vaulted ceiling in the 1530’s. It was the only place in the Palace where photography is not allowed, so this picture is from a postcard.

It is said that Catherine Howard’s ghost runs screaming to the door of the chapel from time to time, but unfortunately she didn’t appear during my visit! Throughout the Palace are hundreds of wonderful paintings. This is part of a large painting showing Henry VIII’s family. His third wife, Jane Seymour, is by his side.

Having a great liking for Trompe L’Oeil painting I had plenty of examples to enjoy here

This is a view of the King’s Staircase, with murals by Antonio Verrio leading up to William III’s apartments.

In one of the outside courtyards I came across a collection of mythical figures carved above long poles.

And this one looks as if it’s been designed by Damien Hirst.

In one room two paintings dominate. One is called ‘The Field of Cloth of Gold’ and the other, I photographed here, is entitled ‘The Embarkation of Henry VIII at Dover’

As I walked around the Palace (at one stage looking idiotic by wearing a long, green, but warm, cloak) characters dressed in period costume would suddenly glide past. “Queen approaches!” was the cry from costumed courtiers as a beautifully robed figure sauntered along the corridor. Here are two I glimpsed.

All in all a very good day. It was raining later so I didn’t venture into the garden, but intend to visit Hampton Court Palace again in a couple of months as there is so much more to see.