Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Great Moments in Art: The Auction

The Auction: Eyes front

Dear Diary,

Today, I attended my first auction: Sworders, Fine Art Auctioneers put on a show of 300+ lots of lovely pieces, nearly all my painter-artist hero's were represented.

You can, I think, enjoy it all here

In spite of coaching and prep from super-friends Richard and Fiona Campbell, walking into the auction felt rather like walking into a pub for the first time - knowing you are still a tad under age. Anyway we browsed, salivated, and put on a stern countenance which seemed to be par for the course.

It also seemed to be par for the course to chuckle at the auctioneer's asides and quips.

We came away enlightened and empty handed.
However on May 24 we have 500 years of Printmaking a must.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Great moments in transport: The Bus Pass

All aboard the 740 to High Wycombe

(to be read in an Alan Bennett lilt)

Dear Diary,

On Saturday my Bus Pass arrived in the post. So yesterday I decided to take it out for a test drive so to speak. The 74 service took just seventeen minutes to whisk us all along the A40 from Beaconsfield to High Wycombe Bus Station.

The experience was most agreeable, as was the return trip on the 740 service.

I spent some time browsing timetables in the Bus Station and saw two services to Oxford which might be my next destination. Sian cautions not to run before I can bus and suggests my next trip be to Uxbridge.

To be continued. 

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

A Sistine Chapel in Stanmore

Just up the road from the solemn face of Edgeware is the church of St Lawrence. 

The medieval church was swept aside by James Brydges, 1st Duke of Chandos who commissioned a remarkable building the baroque style.

The architect was John James, who also worked on the Duke of Chandos' nearby home, Cannons (demolished 1747). (Now commemorated by Canons Park Underground Station) It is likely that James Gibbs oversaw the finishing touches to the church when he replaced John James as the Duke's architect in 1715.

A nice front door

The good Duke in Roman garb

Inside there are some early eighteenth-century paintings, in the Italian style, by artists including Louis Daguerre.

Here Handel played the organ.

On the north side of the church is special mausoleum for the Chandos family. The centrepiece is a massive memorial to Chandos and his two wives. The Duke is portrayed in Roman garb, in a suitably heroic pose.

Stuart gave a tour round the church to us; he is one of guides attached to the Parish Office. His knowledge of the church was bottomless and his affection for the place palpable.

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

St Lawrence and the golden ball

St Lawerence with its golden ball

A rich classical interior
Right at the top of a hill looking towards the gloom of High Wycombe is St Lawerence Church, West Wycombe with its famous golden 
ball at the top of the tower. 

Through the West door you enter a spacious warm baroque interior all organised by the eccentric Francis Dashwood, Lord le Despence - the owner of West Wycombe Park.
In 1763 Dashwood rebuilt the medieval parish church in the then stylish classical manner. He removed the arcades, making the nave into a large, open chamber.   The interior is filled with fantastic frescoes by Italian artists. The most impressive of which is on the chancel ceiling painted by Giovanni Borgnis who sadly died not long after a fall from scaffolding.

Monday, 6 February 2017

More Marmalade

It had to be done, with Seville oranges being so reduced in price at the nearby grocer’s shop – Waitrose.

Again we sat at the kitchen table, cut, quartered, scraped and then finely chopped the peel. 

Into a muslin bag goes the pith and some lemon. Overnight it rests and readies itself for the final hurdle.

Next day, over the stove it boils and bubbles (the bag of pith and pips is included) two hours or more.

Jars are washed and warmed.
Tested and tasted and then off the stove,
Poured into warm jars, tops on loose for now.

On tight soon, and stored.

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Chit Charlottes

Charlotte potatoes are timeless salad potato and a must for the allotment. With a buttery skin and light yellow flesh, they are comparatively small. They are blessed with fresh flavour when served either hot or cold. Boiled as part of a salad as they hold their figure well and they can also roasted whole.

Learn more about lovely Charlotte

Sian bought her's day - so we are on our way!

A high old time in Harefield

The chancel at St Mary's 

The out stuck tongue
St Mary's Church on the outskirts of Harefield in Middlesex is a gem.

Outside the door we were met by Gordon who had been dispatched by the Parish Office to let us in and show us around. The church is crammed with marble monuments. The high spot The church holds the tomb in which Alice Stanley, Dowager Countess of Derby was laid to rest in January 1637. 

At the end of March the Historical Society is, in the church, having a special lecture all about the life of the Countess - the fourth Monday in March. 

A date for the diary! The 27th.

Gordon helped up to locate a stone carving of a head with it's tongue sticking out and as importantly directed us to the Kings Head for lunch which was most excellent. 

Gordon and I in the church yard