Waddesdon Manor is a former Rothschild home located in Buckinghamshire. I’ve visited a lot of National Trust properties this year, but this has to be the most opulent of them all.
It’s so large I couldn’t fit the entire building in one photograph, and it takes 15 minutes to walk from the car park to the property (they run a shuttle service for those less inclined to hike across the fields).
It was designed by a French architect in the style of a french chateau and used as a weekend home. The family are still involved in the upkeep of the property and the charitable works associated with the estate (including the aviary which has a role in the conservation of endangered tropical birds).
Inside the house is filled with all kinds of curiosities – including the Elephant Automatron I’ve included in this post. (It’s also currently playing host to several art exhibitions/installations – my favourite of which were the paintings by Francesco Guardi, an artist who captured Venice so beautifully.)
I have been dreaming of the perfect day out at Great Yorkshire Show for a while – and this week I got my wish. After missing out in recent years, I finally managed to get time off work to visit this annual celebration of all things rural and Yorkshire.
I grew up in a rural community and love spending time in the great outdoors. I’m also very aware of where my food comes from – I always ensure my food is free-range and do my best to shop local. Events like this are pretty much paradise for a foodie like me, but they also support other local businesses and help to maintain/promote countryside traditions which might otherwise be lost.
After a short journey I arrived at the show ground. The sun was beating down, there were ice cream vans everywhere, and white tents as far as the eye could see. I grabbed a quick mid-morning snack and settled down to watch the sheep shearing competition. It’s safe to say I have no idea what the rules were – or even who the winner was – but it was a terrific atmosphere all the same.
Afterwards I made my way to the fashion tent for the Fashion Show (more on that later this week!) before roaming the show ground and soaking it all in. In the afternoon I settled in by the main show ring for the ‘mane’ event (get it?) – the much anticipated Shetland Pony Grand National – and stayed to watch the show-stopping draught horses compete against each other.
If you happen to be in the area next July, I would definitely recommend you spend a day here.
A couple of weeks ago I put my National Trust membership to use again and visited Dunham Massey. I’d never been before and I’m so glad I got to see it. The parkland and garden are just wonderful on a summer’s day and the house is hosting an interesting exhibition on how it was used as a hospital during the First World War. I didn’t spend too much time indoors however, as there’s so much to see on the outside.
Each of the blocks is inscribed with a patient number representing one of the men treated here during the First World War.
A couple of weeks ago we were blessed with a rare springtime blast of sunshine and warmth (you all know by now how much I love the sunshine!) so I decided to take myself off for the day to Lyme Park. I’ve visited it in the past but I was about 5 at the time and purely there to see Santa – and so understandably I wasn’t so fussed for the gardens or the house.
Lyme Park is pretty recognisable as it’s been used in dozens of films and TV programmes in the past (a rather soggy Colin Firth famously climbed out of the lake here, when he was playing Mr Darcy in the BBC’s adaptation of ‘Pride and Prejudice’) and luckily it’s not too far from where I live.
The house and grounds used to belong to an old aristocratic family but after the second world war it was sold to the National Trust – who now manage and maintain it. The National Trust is a charity I am very proud to support as they do a lot of work maintaining hundreds of sites of historic importance. I was so impressed by their work on my visit that I signed up for a year’s membership – which gives me free entry to all their properties for the very reasonable cost of just £60 (if you are 25 or under it’s just £30 for a year.)
Sadly taking photographs inside the house isn’t allowed – but trust me when I say it is worth seeing. A lot of the artefacts and paintings are on loan from private collections and every room has a fascinating bit of history attached to it.
The last building pictured is known as ‘The Cage’. I didn’t have as much time to explore the grounds and deer park as I’d have liked on my visit so I will no doubt be going back again soon…
“Red is the ultimate cure for sadness” – Bill Blass
I don’t know much about Bill Blass but that quote seems kinda sums up this week. Whenever I’m having a trying time of it at work I like to compensate for my lack of confidence in myself with an outfit that says otherwise. This one works a treat.
I bought this Mango shirt in the January sales and it’s one of those rare purchases – the kind where you wish you’d bought two just in case you wear the original out.
As anyone who lives in the North-West (UK) will know, a girl’s “Summer” wardrobe is usually reserved for holidays and that one weekend of unseasonable heat. But that’s not been the case this summer and happily I’ve been able to debut a host of new outfits at work… I say ‘new’ but I’ve owned most of these things for a couple of years, the thing is they usually only come out of my wardrobe to go into a suitcase…
The denim jacket came from Topshop three years ago (just before I left London – when I was trying to blend back into the countryside way of life again!).
The dress is another one of Tesco’s finest from their F&F range and is a couple of years old. (Although I’m reliably informed by someone in the know that bird-prints are going to be the next big thing in textiles… so maybe this dress was just ahead of it’s time?)
But the bag has to be the best bit of this outfit. I’ve never seen another like it. There are similar shapes and styles of course, but nothing to match this one with its gorgeous print. I’m not even sure where it’s from anymore.
It was a birthday present from my Mum 2 years ago. I’d just been handed notice by my landlord at the time and we joked that it wouldn’t matter if I was made homeless, because I could fit my life in this bag. And you really can, it’s like Mary Poppins’ bag: Practically perfect in every way!
This is one of my all-time favourite outfits. It’s just so comfy to wear and believe it or not it works for both Summer and Autumn/Winter. When the temperature drops, I layer it up by wearing the shorts with brown tights, putting a white vest under the T-shirt and adding a red cardigan on top. (I’m lucky enough to be working in a creative industry where there’s quite a relaxed dress code, so I’ve worn this winter-version to work before.)
(How lovely does my Mum’s garden look in the evening sunshine?)
The T-Shirt is from Rare but I bought it at Luan Matthews (a boutique shop I go to often). You can’t see the full length here, but it is super-long. I always take it on holiday with me as it’s perfect for wearing over a bikini as a sort-of dress.
The shorts are a trusty old pair from New Look. I bought them a few years ago and they’re just starting to fray around the edges (and they’re looking a little crumpled here so sadly I don’t think I’ll be able to wear them to work much longer…)
P.S. Yes… I go barefoot a lot at home. It can be a bit risky with so many animals about, but what can I say? I live life on the edge! Savvy Shopping: You won’t find Rare on the high street yet, but if you want to try before you buy then Topshop usually stock some items. Or if you just want to avoid delivery charges you can also find some lines on ASOS.