14 September 2014

Open Houses with a Georgian connection - FREE access to eighteenth century buildings 20 - 21 September 2014

Next weekend Open House London 2014 opens the doors to around 850 sites.  That's a phenomenal number of buildings and public spaces to read about, let alone visit in one weekend.  So, to help bring a few to the foreground I've chosen a few of buildings from the eighteenth century that I would love to look around.  To find out what other buildings are included in the line up click on this link to Open-City.

Benjamin Franklin House
36 Craven Street, London WC2N 5NF

Grade I listed Georgian house of Benjamin Franklin, who among other things discovered the positive and negative charge of electricity, invented a 24-hour clock for navigation, watertight bulkheads for ships, equipment to measure sea water temperatures at different depths, and improved bifocal glasses.

Event Days/Times Saturday  10:30 am-to-4 pm, Sunday  10:30 am-to-4 pm
Event/Entry Details Half-hourly tours, first come basis. First tour 10.30 am.
Last Entry Time Last tour 4 pm.
How to get there - Tube: Embankment; Tube/Rail: Charing Cross

Architect Patrick Dillon
Year Built 1732/2006

The House is the world's only remaining home of Benjamin Franklin –scientist, inventor, writer, and one of the greatest political figures of the 18th century.
It retains many of its original features, including central staircase, lathing, 18th century panelling, stoves, windows, fittings and beams. In his parlour Franklin frequently received friends such as William Pitt the Elder (Earl of Chatham), Edmund Burke, David Hartley, James Boswell, Adam Smith, Bishop Jonathan Shipley, Sir Francis Dashwood, and Thomas Paine.  
Franklin lived and worked there for nearly sixteen years on the eve of the American Revolution, 1757-1775.  Serving as the first de facto US Embassy, it holds a special place in Anglo-American history.

Also significant is that an anatomy school was run from there by his landlady's son-in-law. Centuries later, beneath the Seminar Room's floor, bones were found, remnants of the anatomy school run by William Hewson.

Though built as a lodging house (Franklin was the tenant of Margaret Stevenson), it was said that during his long tenure he was seen as less a lodger and more as head of the household. By the end of 20th century, when the Friends of Benjamin Franklin House were granted the freehold from the British Government, the property was in a dire condition.

Craven Street has the longest stretch of 18th century housing of any other street south of the Strand. Like most of the turnings on the south side of the Strand, Craven Street, originally called Spur Alley, was originally approached through an archway and this continued to be the case long after the street was rebuilt and re-named.

Hogarth's House
Hogarth Lane, Great West Road, London W4 2QN

Early 18th century timber-framed, red brick home of artist William Hogarth extended significantly c 1749-1764. It contains a delightful walled garden with an ancient mulberry tree in it. A unique oasis in modern West London.

Event Days/Times Saturday | 1 pm-to-5 pm
Sunday | 1 pm-to-5 pm
Event/Entry Details Hourly tours of areas usually closed to the public, first come basis.
Last Entry Time Last tour 4 pm, last entry 4.45 pm.
Entry Areas Entry: attic, basement, store rooms, study rooms.
How to get there
Tube: Turnham Green;
Rail: Chiswick;

Year Built c 1715

Hogarth's House is a tiny building beside the Great West Road beyond the Hogarth Roundabout. It was built around 1700 and was the country home of the painter, engraver and satirist William Hogarth (1697-1764) for the last 15 years of his life.

Following a period of neglect, a public appeal to save the house in 1900 failed, but a local benefactor restored and opened it to the public in 1902 as a museum. After serious damage by bombing in 1940 it was reopened after restoration in 1951. It is now run by the Borough of Hounslow. The house underwent further restoration with funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund to mark the 300th anniversary of Hogarth's birth.

Rooms are furnished in the style of Hogarth's time and contain displays about his life and work as well as many of his famous prints, including the well-known 'Moral' series: A Harlot's Progress, An Election and Marriage a la Mode.

The Hurlingham Club
Ranelagh Gardens, London SW6 3PR

Last of the grand 18th century mansions, which once fronted this part of the river, with magnificent interiors and extensive grounds.

Event/Entry Details Sat tours at 11 am and 3 pm only, first come basis, entry 15 mins prior to tour. No admittance at any other time.
How to get there
Tube: Putney Bridge;

Architect Dr William Cadogan / George Byfield
Year Built 1760/1797-8.

The only survivor of the many late Georgian mansions that once fringed this part of the river, Hurlingham House (since 1869 the home of the Hurlingham Club) dates back to 1760 when Dr. William Cadogan, a fashionable physician, acquired a 9 acre site from the then Bishop of London’s Fulham Palace estate and built a plain three bay, three storey house in brown brick which is still recognisable as the core of the present building.

Dr. Cadogan’s successor was one John Ellis, brother of the head of London’s West Indian sugar interest. In 1797 Ellis incorporated Cadogan’s villa into a new, much larger neo-classical style mansion.

The new house’s dominant feature is the stucco faced garden facade in the new grand "John Nash" style of the period, complete with a giant pedimented Corinthian portico with flanking Corinthian pilasters. Inside Byfield created a matching suite of ample "grand manner" style reception rooms (drawing room and dining room) linked by an oval ante room retained from the earlier house (and which, against all the rules of classical decorum, projects into the central portico).

After Ellis, Hurlingham had several well known occupiers including a "mad" Archbishop of Dublin, the Duke of Wellington’s brother and various City bankers. After becoming the Hurlingham Club (originally dedicated to the sport of pigeon shooting) in 1869, it later became the national centre for polo on grounds subsequently acquired by the local council after the war. Forty acres remain (part of the original beautifully landscaped Humphrey Repton Park)."for the use and enjoyment of the (6,000) members and their families and friends".

White Lodge
Richmond Park (nearest gate Sheen Gate), TW10 5HR

Commissioned as a royal hunting residence, White Lodge is a Grade I listed English Palladian villa, inspired by the high renaissance design principles of Palladio and the neo-classical interiors of Inigo Jones. It houses a museum that explores the principles of classicism, embodied by the building of White Lodge and fundamental to the training now undertaken within by the students of The Royal Ballet School.

Event Days/Times Saturday | 10 am-to-12:30 pm
Sunday | 10 am-to-12:30 pm
Event/Entry Details First come basis, queuing outside if necessary.
Entry Areas Entry: selected rooms on ground floor of main villa, White Lodge Museum, view of west front from gardens.
How to get there
Tube/Rail: Richmond;
Rail: Mortlake

Architect Roger Morris
Year Built 1727-30

White Lodge was commissioned in 1727 as a hunting lodge for George I. Completed in 1730, the Lodge became a favoured retreat of the new monarch George II and his consort, Queen Caroline.
In 1837 Queen Victoria granted White Lodge to her favourite aunt, Mary, Duchess of Gloucester.
From 1869 the Queen’s cousin Princess Mary Adelaide and her husband the Duke of Teck resided at White Lodge. Their daughter Princess ‘May’ married the future George V in 1893, becoming Queen Mary. Her son Edward VIII was born at White Lodge on Midsummer’s Eve 1894 and his Christening took place in the Salon. In 1923 the Duke of York, the future George VI and his bride Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon made their home at White Lodge. The grand stairway leading up to the Salon was added. The birth certificate of Queen Elizabeth II gives White Lodge as her parents’ address.
In 1954 a 50 year lease of White Lodge was acquired for The Royal Ballet School. Half a century later the Crown granted a further 100 year lease to the School. In 2004 an ambitious redevelopment of White Lodge commenced, including the addition of new accommodation, dance studios and study facilities. The new buildings were designed by BHandM Architects, and were completed in 2009.
For more information click on www.royalballetschool.co.uk/wl_museum

Asia House
63 New Cavendish Street, London W1G 7LP

Grade II* listed town house originally planned by Robert and James Adam, the interior was designed by John Gregory in the 1770s and the library book shelves were designed by Sir John Soane. The interior of the rooms are Adamesque with filigree plasterwork, inset with classical paintings and elaborate marble chimney pieces.

Event Days/Times Saturday | 10 am-to-5 pm
Sunday | 11 am-to-5 pm
Event/Entry Details Regular tours, first come basis.
Entry Areas Entry: library, cafe, fine rooms 1, 2 and 3.
How to get there
Tube: Oxford Circus, Great Portland Street;

Architect John Johnson
Year Built 18th century.

In the 1770s, Number 63 New Cavendish Street, along with its surrounding area Asia House was part of the Duke of Portland’s Marylebone estate. It is now home to Asia House, a charity, covering a geographical remit from the Gulf in the West to Indonesia in the East, click on the link to find out more http://www.asiahouse.org/.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

13 September 2014

Tour of Britain 2014 Day 7 Finish Line Brighton

What a glorious September day down at the finish line of Day 7, Tour of Britain 2014.

Here are some pics from Madeira Drive.

Vermote, finishing first, Day 7 Tour of Britain 2014

Wiggo warm down

Mark Cavendish, Tour of Britain 2014

Mark Cavendish

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

8 September 2014

Brighton Mini Maker Faire #BMMF2014

So here it is - pics from the fun, inspirational, child friendly, creative, digital Brighton Mini Maker Faire.  In its fourth year, this is an event that keeps coming back, bigger, bolder and brighter! #BMMF2014

Public art for the Dream City Project
Mr Watt, Grumpy Man of Metal

Dream City taking shape
Mini Maker Faire 2014

The Woolly Umbrella
Mark Cass, dispensing advice
Mini Maker Faire 2014

Lab Rat Creations
Lab Rat Creations, upcycled art
Tazz lamp by Lab Rat Creations
Jewellery Macabre by Kimi
Play music with a bunch of bananas at Maplin
Follow my blog with Bloglovin

4 September 2014

Festival Guide 2014 - Festival Number 6, this weekend 5 - 7 September 2014 by Rosie Davis

~ 5th-7th September ~
LL48 6ER
Weekend camping tickets (Friday arrival) £160.00 + booking fee
Weekend camping tickets (Thursday arrival) £175.00 + booking fee  

 When I was five years old I woke up one morning remembering a dream that had taken up my sleeping time. Two weeks ago (26 years later) I was sat in a pub telling someone about this same dream, the man’s eyes widened and he asked me if I’d ever been to Portmeirion. I shook my head. What I described was an aqueduct (with Ivor the Engine on it and a dragon!), which I now know to be near the village, and then I described how I strolled along a beach, its shape, and its surroundings. I had described Portmeirion.

In the 1960s Patrick McGoohan trotted across our TV screens being chased by a giant white balloon. The bizarre, yet hypnotizing programme was The Prisoner. Set amongst the eclectic architecture of Portmeirion the location became as famous as the white balloon, and the main character’s name became so synonymous with the setting that it became the name of a festival, Number 6. Portmeirion is now the annual home to this arts and culture festival with a three-day programme that weaves in and out of the rainbow coloured buildings of the town and the  surrounding natural landscape of  north Wales. You will find yourself on a private peninsular on the southern shores of Snowdonia, with the River Dwyryd passing by.  

Portmeirion was built by Sir Clough Williams-Ellis. He wanted to show that a development did not mean destruction of the natural environment. The village was built in two stages, 1925 to 1939 and 1954 to 1976. The first stage mapped out the town and some of the most iconic buildings were constructed. The latter half resembled a classical or Palladian style. Some buildings were salvaged from demolition sites, fitting in with Clough’s description of Portmeirion as “a home for fallen buildings”.  Clough had a vision, and that vision still stands strong. Portmeirion is now owned by the Second Portmeirion Foundation, which is a registered charity. They have partnered up with the team behind Festival No.6 to keep Clough’s motto alive: “Cherish the Past, Adorn the Present, Construct for the Future.”

The architecture is undoubtedly a centrepiece for this festival. Performances are strewn across the village and the buildings are available to rent, as are the hotel rooms, and you are immersed into the history and vision of Portmeirion. Events will take place on the Italian Piazza, The Stone Boat, The Town Hall, highly acclaimed restaurants and the woodland.  In the Castell Park area you will find the Street Food Village, Comedy Tent, Studio 6, The Late Night Pavilion and a array of other canvas venues.  

I can’t help but look at the photographs and be taken aback by the pure beauty of the site, but the festival’s team hasn’t just relied on the setting to sell the tickets. The team have created a line-up that has hand-picked performers from a range of genres and ages. Comedians, musicians, writers, chefs and intellects will attract an audience that may not have previously heard of this exquisite village. The musical side of this festival not only branches across a multitude of genres but also eras. Current favourites such-as Tune-Yards and Kelis are on the bill, as well as Neneh Cherry and the Pet Shop Boys. Jimi Gordon, Jon Hopkins, London Grammar and Beck are also making an appearance. For the ravers the festival has The Late Night Pavilion, one of two dance tents. Here you will be able to catch tunes from Laurent Garnier (3 hour set) and Todd Terje as he steps in front of the decks to bring you a live show. 

While previewing this year’s summer festivals, I noticed that there is an ever-growing connection between established and new festivals, the focus on food. Appearances from chefs and the inclusion of banquets have become of equal importance to the musical line-up. The Festival Number 6 organisers are putting on long table banquets with Bryn Williams and Aiden Byrne. There will also be street food and a Welsh food market, dinner at Clough’s restaurant and The Hotel Portmeirion, if you want to add a bit glamour to your weekend.  

If none of the above has appealed to you so far then how about the next part of the line-up. Take yourself to the cinema to watch Shane Meadows’ ‘The Living Room’, featuring a live performance from Gavin Clark. Spoken Word has become an integral part of many festivals and over the weekend you can hear The No.6 Dylan Thomas Tribute featuring Kevin Allen, Rhys Ifans and Murray Lachlan Young. Catch a glimpse of Charlie Higson, Julian Cope, Salena Godden, Stuart Maconie, Matt Everitt (known to BBC 6 Music fans) and Tim Burgess presents Tim Peaks, the Charlatans front man’s pop-up cafe. You can also laugh your socks off in the comedy tent with James Acaster and Josh Widdicombe. If you want a bit more action perhaps the Carnival No.6 will have you dancing and singing or maybe try a Paddle Boarding session.

It is now the end of the festival season and my festival guide 2014. I hope you have enjoyed it, because I definitely have! Now do me one favour, get on that Virgin Train and arrive at Festival Number 6 with a camera filled with film (I’m old school), and take some photos to show me!

25 August 2014

Giant paper maze, surveillance and dance come to Brighton 28 – 30 August 2014 with the New Movement Collective

Set within an architectural paper labyrinth from waste donated by the Guardian Newspaper Print Centre, the audience are invited to experience a unique dance experience at Circus Street Market.  

Inspired the seminal novel ‘The New York Trilogy’ by Paul Auster, New Movement Collective (NMC) present Casting Traces, a cross-genre 45-minute performance involving film, music, dance and the audience.

~ Casting Traces 2014, New Movement Collective ~
Circus Street Market will be transformed into a giant paper maze creating a temporary world of illusion, where light and shadow will interplay and choreographed movement will be enhanced. Designed by Elin Eyborg, visitors become participants in the performance, with the translucent assemblage encouraging the audience to reassess their perception of dance and architecture.

Meanwhile projections and live camera feeds will enable participants to encounter representations of themselves as they explore hidden spaces.  In collaboration with Nylon Films, the aim is to explore popular themes of detective novels and our response to an ever-present surveillance. 

Alongside this visual interplay, a composition by Szymon Brzóska (Sadler’s Wells Theatre) will be played live during the event by violinist Linda Jankowska and Aisha Orazbayeva.

NMC hope the combined affect will blur the boundaries between dance, architecture, film and music. 

Nominated for ‘Best Independent Company’ in the Critics’ Circle National Dance Awards in 2013, NMC aspires to change and evolve the landscape of contemporary theatre, unlocking performance potential within hidden pockets of our cities.

Circus Street Market, May 2014

Brighton, Circus Street Market, Brighton, BN2 9QF
28 August - 8:30 pm
29 + 30 August - 6:45 pm + 8:30 pm
** Tickets must be purchased in advance at southeastdance.org.uk/performances

24 August 2014

Where I get my story-telling inspiration - Hey, What's the Big Idea

One thing I am not good at is promoting myself.  Other people, yes for sure and I love it.  There are so many interesting and creative people in Brighton that writing about other people is easy.

When it comes to my own endeavours, despite writing it for my niece (that's my inspiration); setting it in one of my favourite gardens and writing about some adorable little scamperers, my efforts to tell people about my story pretty much fall flat.

Scanning my emails tonight, 78 unread (I've got to learn how to unsubscribe to things) I came across one from the Mumsnetter gang, which read, here's your chance to meet a children's publisher.  Go on Sarah, they said, enter the Big Idea competition and add your link!  
Ok, so the email didn't quite emphatically address me personally, but that's what I understood. 
~ Brighton Pavilion Gardens ~
It all started with a commission from my brother for a book for his 3 year old daughter Olivia. From there I just had to come up with an idea and it didn't take me long to decide on a story about squirrels for the content. During daily walks through St James' Park in London and Brighton Pavilion Gardens I loved watching the busy-ness of squirrels - approaching people for nuts, jumping through trees and generally scurrying around.
~ Alfie the Squirrel ~
It was at this point at a family meal a chance conversation led to an offer from my aunt to produce some water colour illustrations for me. So, with that, I had the commission, a hero, an illustrator and now all I needed was a story.

Then one day in October, while walking through Brighton Pavilion Gardens I noticed that the grass had gone. Well, I thought, what would Alfie make of this (because he now had a name).

So, I took some photos, to accompany the story and started to write the tale for Alfie, I mean Olivia. The story completed, I received some water colour illustrations from my aunt Joy, which were fantastic and I was delighted.

Further good fortune meant that by chance I happened to be walking through the Pavilion Gardens at the very time the men on the quad tractor came to lay a new lawn, giving me the perfect opportunity to take more photos.

Finally, I needed to work out how to put it all together and a friend at a Brighton Writers meet-up recommended Blurb to me. I found out I could design the layout myself and publish online.

After a few proto-types, one flew across to NYC for Little Miss O to preview.  

Finally, I published Alfie the Squirrel as an ebook on Blurb and I think so far it has sold about three copies at a price of 99p.

Dedicated to my three beloveds, Olivia, Max and India, the story is accompanied by some wonderful water colour pictures by my aunt Joy.  Please check it out.  


17 August 2014

A Summer Guide to Afternoon Tea in Devon

It may be the last day of National Afternoon Tea week but the pleasure of afternoon tea with a Devonshire scone and some clotted cream on a lovely sunny day is still for the taking.

Nicky Primavesi at Visit Devon, is in the business of knowing what's what and where's how and that sort razzamatazz regarding all that's best about Devon.  Here's a few suggestions of some lovely spots to go to for the best afternoon tea down south.

Angels in Babbacombe is a wonderful little surprise. This tea room and daytime restaurant bustles from the moment the doors open. Fine bone china and loose leaf tea with home made scones, local jams and Devonshire cream make this a must stop for cream tea lovers every where. Locals rave about the breakfast and visitors jostle for a seat in the delightful garden courtyard for lunch. Fresh local produce is used to great effect and there's a stunning view of Lyme Bay thrown in for free.

Royal William Yard in Plymouth is an ex navy victualling yard that has been lovingly restored by Urban Splash over the past 10 years. It is now one of Plymouth's most popular days out and one of their greatest foodie hubs. Surrounded by water, the views are exceptional and each building is full of history. The newest addition is Will's at One, Royal William Yard. This very elegant tea room offers first class service at its core with a choice of sipping tea in a beautifully decorated interior, with crisp white linen tablecloths and sumptuous decor, or in a magical ‘secret garden’ where there is a raised decking area providing spectacular views over Firestone Bay.

Originally a Salt House used by the Benedictine Monks who traded Salt at Exeter Cathedral. The Salty Monk ensure their scones are fresh by baking them to order for every customer and offer a selection of 22 loose leaf teas to accompany this. Scones are made on the premises as are the preserves, while the clotted cream is sourced locally from the nearby Yarty Valley. They offer a Champagne tea which includes a glass of pink bubbles and meringues with fresh berries alongside the traditional cream tea. They also have award winning gardens in which to enjoy them or a gallery room showcasing local artists work.

Gidleigh Park sits majestically on the bubbling upper reaches of the River Teign within 107 acres of mature grounds featuring an acclaimed kitchen garden, croquet lawns and putting course. The house has an air of tranquillity and romance and you will enjoy a genuinely warm welcome. Afternoon tea at Gidleigh Park is a sumptuous affair; the full afternoon tea features a selection of finger sandwiches, fruit tartlets, cakes and scones accompanied by Devonshire clotted cream, strawberry jam and the finest teas from the hotel’s in-house selection (£30 per person). Champagnes are also available by the glass for that extra indulgence.

Powderham Castle, the 600 year old home of the Earl and Countess of Devon near Exeter, makes an ideal place to visit for people of all ages during the summer holidays. Families are invited to picnic in the beautiful grounds, enjoy a guided tour of the Castle and spend time in their walled garden play area and pets corner, home to many friendly Powderham pets. Afternoon tea is served daily from 3 - 5:30 pm in the Courtenay Café, which serves up a range of freshly baked cakes and cream teas. Cakes on offer include lemon drizzle, coffee and walnut, Victoria sponge and the ever popular almond cake, as well as a wide range of biscuits and pastries to suit all ages. Gluten free chocolate brownies, fruit cake, macaroons and scones are also available. Up to 25 can be seated inside the Courtenay Cafe with additional seating in the Coach House as well as outdoor seating so that visitors can enjoy the West Country sunshine. The Cafe inside is cosy and has a ramp to make it accessible to wheelchair users.

Otterton Mill, Budleigh Salterton in the heart of Devon is a glorious setting to sit down and relax with a cream tea or two. Their scones are made fresh every day using their finest flour milled on site, with the all important accompaniments sourced only 30 miles away. They also bake speciality breads such as, granary, spelt and rye, so whether you are walking, cycling or riding along the river Otter, go wend your way to Otterton Mill for some freshly baked refreshment.

Finally, The Venus Café in South Devon, overlooks the clear turquoise waters of the secluded ‘Blue Flag’ awarded Blackpool Sands beach. One of only ten companies throughout the UK to have been awarded the Queen’s Award for Sustainable Development in 2010, it is renowned for serving organic, fresh produce. In addition to a mouthwatering cream tea, The Venus Café also offers seafood specials, organic beef burgers, scrumptious sandwiches and a wide selection of child friendly favourites.

If you can’t make it to Devon, there's another solution to getting your cream tea fix without even leaving home. Delimann Hampers can send an authentic afternoon cream tea direct to your door. Delivered anywhere in the UK from their Dartmoor base; freshly baked scones, Devonshire clotted cream, award winning strawberry jam with tea blended in the West Country are accompanied by a selection of other Devon treats, all sent beautifully packaged on a next day courier service. Go to Delimann's or call them on 01626 830372.