Somerset Weekend

So many things are happening that I'm getting a it behind in writing my blog. Anyway ten days or so ago my young friend and I drove down to Somerset to attend the Hilliard Miniature Show in Wells. As the date clashed with the Glastonbury Festival ( held just a few miles away from Wells) all he hotels and B&B's had been booked months ago with BBC comandeering just about every hotel room within twenty miles of the Festival site. We therefore booked a B&B in a very picturesque village called Nunney. It turned out to be just about the best B&B we've ever stayed in. 

Lunch next day in Wells Town Hall where the Miniature Show opened in the afternoon. I had entered 5 portrait miniatures and had also given a pencil drawing I made of Michael Eavis CBE, the organiser of the Glastonbury Festival, to be a major raffle prize. 

While in Wells we had a look around the Bishops Palace. Here's the entrance.

I didn't go inside as I had to be at the Hilliard Council meeting but MYF took a complete tour of the Palace. 
Next morning we drove down to Sandbanks to have lunch with Pauline Gyles - a fellow miniaturist painter. She lives adjacent to the Royal Yacht Club there - which is where we had lunch overlooking the marina.

Pauline's front garden is so beautifully cared for.

After lunch we visited Swanage where we strolled along the pier looking for the brass plate embedded in the walkway that the family had made about fifteen years ago commemorating brother Bob. Swanage was one of his favourite holiday trips he took with his family. At the entrance to the pier I borrowed a tin of Brasso and a cloth to spruce it up a bit. We finally found the plate amongst hundreds of others, and gave it a good clean. (Well, my young friend knelt down to do the cleaning while I watched!)

That evening we arrived at our next destination - Marine House at Milford-on-sea - which has a view out towards the Needles. 

Very Art Deco, but the restaurant, although serving nice food, was the noisiest one we'd ever been in. We had to move our chairs right close to each just for me to be able to hear anything at all. 
On our way home next morning we paid a visit to Beaulieu, home of the National Motor Museum. Here's a couple of the hundreds of beautiful cars on display. The first is Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. 

I hadn't realised that the Beaulieu Estate had a dedicated display of the many (crashed and otherwise wrecked) cars which featured in the original series of the TV programme Top Gear.

Beaulieu means 'beautiful place' and it certainly lives up to its name. This is the Palace House

And here is the dining hall with its massive Victorian fireplace (which is kept alight throughout the winter ensuring that the scent of woodsmoke permeates the entire house.)

There's even a monorail which takes you all round the garden, although I must admit that climbing out of the carriage was a bit of a problem as the leg I can't bend properly got stuck - until I manoevered myself out backwards! The gardens are delightful, especially the Victorian Garden complete with a topiary scene from The Mad Hatters Tea Party. 

Back in Henley it was Royal Regatta time. So on Saturday six of us congregated in the grounds of Phyllis Court. Just a couple of light showers but we still enjoyed our Pimms on the lawn before going into the dining room for lunch. My cousin Paul and Em, his girlfriend, Jane and Brian and MYF made up our little party - all dolled up in our Regatta finery. Later in the day we watched some of the rowing from our vantage point in directors chairs on the floral bank of the river. 

Just out of the picture, on the left, is my young friend looking really good in her new dress and a 'Hatinator'. For the gents who may be reading this blog a Hatinator is a cross between a Fascinator and a hat. (And don't ask what a fascinator is - I only found out myself a couple of years ago.) 

Some of the sights - including Elvis Presley. So that's where he got to. 

Talking of Elvis we went to the Regal last week to see the film 'Elvis and Nixon'

And here I am in the 60's wearing my favourite shirt at the time (I'm a little more sober now  -'thank goodness' says my young friend) and sporting Elvis style sideboards. 

Apart from the 'Social Whirl' I've been spending 8 or 9 hours a day finishing the third oil painting in the large trio of autum leaves. They will measure about six feet long when assembled. I'll post a photograph of them when they dry. The only other painting I've done this week is covering the plain wood blue on a garden mirror - part of MYF's birthday present. 

The Regatta finished on Sunday so we decided to take 'Marsh Mundy' out for a trip down the course  in the late afternoon - when most of the big boats had vacated the river.  Except for several 'Gin Palaces' which had attached themselves to the booms nearest the stage in readiness for the Henley Music Festival which started yesterday with an appearance of Elton John. But for now you'll have to put up with a picture of me taking the boat down to Hambleden with Val. My young first mate took the photo.