Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Getting Wiggy With It...

A random post based on one of my beloved French and Saunders productions - "Let Them Eat Cake", and a few vintage prints of  ?fashionable wigs...


Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Dubbo Chronicles No.3 ... Kangaroos


Life in Dubbo ticks by. I spent my day off on Tuesday shopping. I bought some nice art for the walls of the flat, and a few object d'arts to make it feel more homely. I thought that I should buy some really nice things, that I could bring home with me for the manor house, rather than decorating with a few cheap and disposable pieces that I would choose to leave behind. I compromised on a few things, such as crockery and glassware; but somethings, like good quality bed linen, really aren't negotiable.

Anyway, this blog is dedicated to one of our newest followers, Fran (from Dubbo!) who wanted another installment of The Dubbo Chronicles. So, here it is: my exciting first encounter with Kangaroos!

Last night on my way to dinner I drove past 2 Kangaroos on the road. I [not so gently] applied the brakes and ground to a halt. I had heard about herds of 'Roos' all over the place but had yet to see any. Most of the vehicles around town have mightily industrial 'Roo-Bars' on them, because if you hit one of these creatures it can do some serious damage to One's grill. Anyway, these two little blighters hopped happily away through the fence and into the twilight, but not before I had managed to take a few snaps...

The weather here remains as dry as back home. We have had a few storms around the region, but no significant rain in Dubbo. I went to Orange with a friend last week. Orange was a lovely town. It was much greener than Dubbo, and had a lot of nice restaurants and wineries; but perhaps that should be the subject of a future post...

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Helping Hands...

This year with the drought hay is like gold in our region. So, for the first time we decided to make our own hay and keep it, instead of getting contractors to cut, turn, bale and sell it. But with Peter unable to do manual labour at present we had to rely on the kindness of friends and family, who turned up to help us get in the harvest. We produced over 300 bales in total...

Above: The hay being baled

Below: bricks of straw gold
Above: Friends turned up with utes to help us get the hay in
Below: Uncle David and Aunty Jo with their truck and trailer.
Above: Georgina and Stuart et al unloading hay
Below: Andreas and Julian stacking bales 

My grandfather also came out and trimmed all the goats hooves; and one of our neighbours took some of our lambs to market for us. So, thank you dear friends and family for rallying around us and looking after Peter.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Elizabeth Tower and Big Ben...

Above: The inside of the clock face of  'Big Ben' taken on a visit in 2002.

Last year the Clock Tower (the tower within The Palace of Westminster which houses the bell 'Big Ben' and its clock) was renamed 'The Elizabeth Tower' in honour of ERII's Diamond Jubilee. The main tower of The Palace of Westminster, 'The Victoria Tower' had previously been renamed from 'The King's Tower' in honour of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee. The re-dedication of the tower reminded me a previous trip up the tower a few years ago...

Above: A view of St. Margaret's and Westminster Abbey
from up the tower

The tower was part of Charles Barry's redesigned Palace of Westminster, after the previous palace was largely destroyed by fire in 1834. The new tower was finished in 1858 and remains the 3rd tallest clock tower in the world, being 315 feet tall (16 storeys). Being within the Houses of Parliament it is not open to tourists.

Below: A view over the Palace of Westminster showing The Central Tower and The Victoria Tower (with flag)

The dials were designed by the great Gothic revivalist, Augustus Pugin, who worked closely with Barry on many of the design aspects of the new palace. They are 23 feet in diametre...

Across the bottom in gilt inscription in Latin reads Domine Salvam Fac Reginam Nostrum Victoriam Primam (Lord Vouchsafe Our Queen, Victoria the First)

Big Ben itself is the very loud and sonorous 13.5 tonne hour bell. It was cast at the Whitechapel Bell Foundry (which is where we have had many bells and bronze plaques made for us previously, as it was just down the road from where we were working at the Royal London Hospital. We plan to have the bell for the chapel at Willowbrook cast there as well). The Big Ben bell is not the originally planned 16 tonne bell (which was cast at Stockton on Tees by Warner and Sons). That bell cracked during testing. 

  Above: Big Ben surrounded by the smaller quarter bells.

Below: Me on a cold winter's day standing next to 'Big Ben' himself.

Above: The words from Haendel's Messaiah from which the quarter chimes are taken

The quarter chimes are traditionally believed to come from the 5th and 6th measures of "I know my redeemer liveth" from Haendel's Messaiah. The chime was first written for the bells of the clock tower of St Mary the Great, Cambridge, in 1793. Hence, they are often referred to as the Cambridge quarters. It wasn't until the mid 19th century that the chime was adopter for the Westminster quarter chimes, and has subsequently become known as 'The Westminster Chime'.

I know my redeemer liveth

The Clock's movement is famous for its reliability. It was designed by Edmund Denison and George Airy (an amateur horologist and The Astronomer Royal respectively) and built by Edward Dent and his stepson Frederick Dent. It was completed 5 years before the tower was finished!

Frederick Dent invented a 'double three legged gravity escapement'. The mechanism of the clock itself weighs 5 tons; the pendulum is 13 feet long and weighs 660 pounds, and beats 30 times per minute. The frequency has been finely tuned with pennys. By adding a penny one is lifting the pendulum's centre of mass and thereby increasing the frequency of the pendulum's oscillation. Each penny added has the effect of increasing the clock's speed by 0.4 seconds per day...

If you wish to set your watch by the chime of Big Ben, you can rest assured that the first strike of the hour bell will be accurate within one second each day.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Bad things come in threes...

Poor Peter!

It has hardly rained at all since I left NZ, and the Waikato is on the brink of officially declaring a drought (quite unexpected). This of course places a lot of pressure on those managing a farm, and newly planted gardens. 

To make matters worse, last week our gardener and farm manager had to resign due to immigration issues. 

As if that wasn't enough to contend with, yesterday Peter then ended up lacerating the extensor tendons of his dominant hand due to the combination of a brand new pair of hoof trimmers and an ill-timed kick from a goat! Luckily our friend Jackie was out at Willowbrook at the time and could drive him back into town. 

He ended up in the Emergency Department, where thankfully he was surrounded by plenty of familiar and friendly faces in my absence, and very soon thereafter had the tendons repaired by a plastic surgeon friend who I went through med school with. Who says the public health system doesn't work! (I must say up front that he did not receive any special treatment, but the standard stirling work of the team at Waikato Hospital).

So, now he is faced with the problem of managing a farm and gardens with one (non-dominant) hand. He is in an elbow to finger-tip cast for 6 weeks; can not drive; in fact, was having difficulty opening the tin to feed the cat (lucky Willoughby has a large open bag of dog biscuits!).

So, my brave Peter will have to manage with the help of friends and family (I did offer to come home, but he said things weren't quite that bleak). 

Thinking of you from the other side of the ditch,

Stables Two...

After coming across so many country house stable blocks in my research for the great estates series, I thought I would collate some together for a pictorial post on English stables...

Ingestre Stables

Audley End Stables

Belton House Stables...

 (Photos of Belton Stables by Steven J Lewis)

Longford Hall Stables

Burton Constable Stables

The Stable at Studley Royal

How they looked when Studley Royal was still standing...

the house was destroyed by a fire for the second time in 1946 and subsequently demolished. The stable block has now been turned into a private house...
Wollarton Stables

Broughton House Stables

Seaton de Laval Stables

Manderston House Stables
Bradgate House Stables 
Southwick House Stables 

Friday, February 8, 2013

Tweeds and Brogues and Silver Pigeons...


As followers will know, I have a penchant for English country clothing and for Gentlemen's fashion in general. So I was thrilled when I received a beautiful 7 piece tweed suit for Christmas (Blazer, Waistcoat, Trousers, Cap, Coat, Gilet and Breeks).

And as you may also know from my previous post, I was looking for a new shotgun, and with the likes of Purdey and Holland and Holland being slightly outside one's grasp at present I decided I would get a nice Beretta, but was undecided on the model. However, much to my surprise, I also received a Silver Pigeon at Christmas, so the decision was made for me, and it is beautiful...

So, it was obviously time for a shoot (not the sporting kind, as the gun has yet to be properly oiled in!)...

The Silver Pigeon received great reviews
I even found an informative video review...

The Beretta USA video above is the most informative clip on the Silver Pigeon I could find, but the accent takes some getting used to. For a much more English clip, you must watch this Holland and Holland promotion, showing the gunsmiths at work, through to a shooting party and supper (all with H&H merchandise /of course)...

It must be time for another country fashion parade...


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