Category Archives: Museums

Like Giggling Teenagers. 22nd September

Bristol Floating Harbour

Torrential rain woke me at 3am hammering on the roof trying to get in. I checked all the windows were closed and climbed back into bed. By 3:30 the outside world had calmed down so sleeping could continue.

Saturday paper on a Sunday

No alarm clock, we had a lie in and enjoyed a cuppa and the Saturday newspaper in bed. It’s been a while.

A quick tidy and brush up, another load of washing and we were ready.

Two giggling 52 year old teenagers walked down the side of the boat. I knew exactly who they were.

Rachael, Charlotte and Pip

Charlotte and Rachael two of my old school friends from York. Charlotte is a teacher and lives in Bristol and Rachael runs a plant nursery near Malvern. These two ladies were Goths back in the 80’s. They wore black head to toe and had spiky hair, where as I wore all red and occasionally crimped my hair.

They had a good look round Oleanna and met Tilly, although she’d rather have gone out! Then we headed to Wetherspoons for some lunch and a drink. There was lots to catch up on, poor Mick coped very well.

Old friends

I last saw Charlotte at my 40.5 birthday party. We used to keep in touch until we moved onto the boat, then Charlotte moved house several times around Bristol and we lost touch. I luckily found her on Whatsap a couple of weeks ago. Rachael on the other hand I hadn’t seen since we left school. She went off to train as a Stage Manager, performed in a circus act and lived on a coach in Sheffield for a while. She then worked at Askam Bryan, an agricultural college near York, and now designs gardens for people.

Several life times have passed, we caught up on gossip of friends all across the globe. It was a very lovely afternoon with them. We hope to all meet up again when we reach Birmingham at the beginning of next year.

THE Green boat that’s made the headlines recently

There was still enough daylight to go for a walk and help wear off the lunchtime drinking. So Mick and I decided to walk round the harbour to see what else there was to see.

Some of the harbour

By the 1760’s Bristol had become such a popular port for cargo ships it was struggling to accommodate all the ships. In 1765 the idea of a floating none tidal harbour was put forward by engineer John Smeaton. But no progress was made until 1790 and by 1802 William Jessop was engaged to come up a scheme. He put together various ideas from earlier proposals.

Colourful

The River Avon was dammed at Rownham and at the bottom of Totterdown Hill, near Temple Meads, impounding all the water of the Avon and Frome between these points. A weir at Netham controlled the level of the Harbour water, channelling water along a Feeder Canal and allowing excess to spill back into the tidal river Avon. A half tide basin was constructed with locks to the river and the harbour.

Curved lock gates

We walked down to the River Avon past Junction Lock, Cumberland Basin (the half tide basin) to Entrance Lock which takes vessels down onto the tidal river.

Blimey it’s high up

Standing between the lock and the weir we could look down the valley towards the River Severn, Clifton Suspension Bridge sitting high above everything. Lines of coloured houses brightened up the greying skies.

Spot the ball

A pool under the Plimsole Swing Bridge was playing host to teams playing Canoe Polo, highly energetic and wet.

Mick controlling the harbour level

At Underfall Yard there is a museum where models demonstrate how the level of the floating harbour is kept constant and how they scour out the silt that collects. Notice boards around the harbour warn you of days and times that this process takes place.

4 fingers and a thumb
Pretty boat

Plenty of boats are moored up, some with all the services and other with little other than a ladder to gain access to your boat. Past the Harbour Masters building and along the south side of the harbour.

The sun managed to come out

A clock tower on a 1920’s building glowed in the late sunshine against the bright blue sky. Down the side of the building at the end of an alleyway an alarm box had been put to artistic purpose.

A Banksy

Banksy in 2014 painted his version of Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earing. This is called the Girl with a Pierced Ear. The spatters and dribbles make this piece, we did wonder if the central heating flue had been added after the girl was painted or before.

Broken down sign
No sign of Wallace

Signs of the Bristol Old Vic Scenic Workshop and Aardman Animation. Theatre and Wallace and Gromit close neighbours.

Peeking over the fence

We’d considered visiting the SS Great Britain, now it was too late in the day and the £17 entrance fee put us off. Instead we looked at the stern through the fence for free, not quite the same as going round, but considerably cheaper!

There is a bit of road in there somewhere

From here railway lines criss and cross what was the docks.

Electric cranes all lined up

Four electric cranes still stand at the waters edge, the only remainers of the 40 that had existed in the 1950s. What a different place this would have been 70 years ago. No museums cafes and bars then.

Mirror ball

We crossed back over to the north bank on Prince Street Bridge then over Peros Bridge and towards Millenium Square. Here cascading water sculptures reminded us of Sheffield station.

The biggest mirror ball gave me opportunities to take our photos before we looked at the electric generating tree. Below this you can charge your phone whilst enjoying the aroma of the rosemary bushes as a statue of Cary Grant watches you. Millenium Parade brought us back to the boat for some play time with Tilly.

Energy tree
Rosemary phone charger

The cruiser that had been moored near us had left, so we decided to give the other boat left on the moorings a bit more space. We pushed over to the next pontoon, which was one of the wobbliest I’ve ever tried walking on, more like a fairground ride than somewhere safe to tie up to. The wind blew Oleanna away as I clung onto the centre line, Mick waiting for me to pass it back to tie us up. I stayed put trying to keep my balance until we were tied up, reducing the number of sides I could fall off to one.

Cary Grant apparently

0 locks, 0 miles, 2 old friends, 2 much to catch up on, 3 burgers, 1 quinoa salad, 1 portion of halloumi fries, 1 Punk IPA, 1 Swift 1, 1 wine, 1 coffee, 5 mile walk, 4 cranes, £17!! 1 tide out, 1 more day without friends, 1 boat almost blown away, 40ft of wobbliest wobblyness.

Door To The Imagination. 24th August

Radcot Meadow to Kelmscott Manor

Webs

The spiders overnight work was being shown off by the morning dew, a very pretty sight to open the curtains to.

Radcot Bridge

Not far today, but we were still up and away early to hopefully find a mooring. Passing all the glamping teepees and tents by Radcote Bridge (the oldest on the Thames) we wondered how many slices of pig were being fried up for breakfast.

Rowing

A rowing boat was heading towards us, nothing surprising there. This turned out to be a novice team rowing from Lechlade to Teddington raising funds for the NSPCC. Their back up team running the towpath warned that they weren’t so good at steering, well they’ll have a problem when they come to the next twists and turns!

Wonderful view

After a mile and a half we reached Grafton Lock, although on self service there was a Lockie doing his checks, he opened up the bottom gates and worked us up. Another boat appeared from above which he worked down too, how long would it be before he could head off to the next lock?

The cratch will remain rolled up tonight
That rope will help us to get up the bank

Today the Twists and turns have been replaced by pill boxes, they felt as though they were every few hundred yards as we made our way to where we wanted to moor, The easy moorings were full, round the bend was full also. Signs on posts stood high above the friendly cover so it looked like there might be more places to moor round the next bend. We pulled into the cover, no chance of me getting off at the bow, but Mick managed with a scramble.

Pinned in at the front and tied round the post at the stern we had a handy rope to help clamber up the bank. Why here? Why not go on further? Well just through the trees we could see the reason Kelmscott Manor, William Morris’s holiday home.

Kelmscott Manor

In 1871 William Morris and fellow artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti took out a years lease on the house, it was to provide them with a country retreat away from London and the pressures of work. Originally built around 1570 the Elizabethan house had captured Morris’s imagination. The lease was continued, Rossetti moving out in 1874 being replaced by Frederick Startridge Ellis, Morris’s publisher.

By the Brewhouse door

The house and surrounding area gave inspiration to Morris for 25 years, influencing his poetry, textiles, wallpaper designs. The traditional architecture of the area reinforced his convictions about the integrity of craft-based work and design and the importance of conserving ancient buildings for future generations.

From the croquet lawn

Morris managed to secure a 20 year lease of the house and later after his death in 1896, Jane his wife continued to be a tenant moving from London to live in the house full time. In 1913 she managed to buy the freehold of the manor along with 9 1/2 acres of land. In 1914 May, their daughter, inherited the house and in 1938 when she died she left the house to Oxford University. By the 1960’s The Society of Antiquaries of London was looking after the house and serious works were needed to save it from major problems with the stone slating and wall masonry, damp and timber decay. Much work was carried out and by 1967 the house was ready for it’s new lease of life and to have visitors.

The Green room which currently isn’t green

Entrance to the house is by timed entry ticket, this gave us enough time to look at some of the grounds and the posh William Morris tat in the shop. A one way route round the house was in operation and volunteers guided you through the house and were on hand to answer questions.

Table and chairs

Many items have remained with the house from Morris’s time and before. These items living up to Morris’s maxim, Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful. That reminds me we need to reapply this to Oleanna.

Burne-Jones zodiac drawing
Rossetti portrait of Jane

Morris fabric hangs from many walls, and wonderful embroideries by his wife and daughter accompany drawings by Burne-Jones, Rossetti, and furniture from other Arts and Crafts designers. Albercht Durer and Breughel works hang on walls all important influences on Morris.

Sussex
Chairs

Various styles of Sussex chairs with their dark wood, rattan or rush seats sit comfortably all around the house.

Light
Window latch

Tapestries. light fittings with reflectors.

Reflecting upstairs

A circular mirror hangs on the staircase wall echoing the Portrait of John Arnolfini and his Wife by Jan Van Eyck.

Windows
framing views

Windows framing views of the garden literally held in place by the window catches.

Intricate embroidery

A recent acquisition is the wonderful ‘The Homestead and the Forest’ cot quilt. A circular Thames encircles Kelmscott Manor and outside are animals from across the world.

Meow
Grrr

Lions, cats, flamingos, crocodiles.

Loft steps

A loft staircase, takes you up to the attic rooms. Here is what captured Morris’s heart and ours.

Look at those beams

The rooms below are very nice with great views, but you really can’t beat the slopping roof and exposed beams of an attic room.

You just have to mind your head

This house doesn’t just have one room up here, it has several. I’d quite happily live up on the top floor of the house. What wonderful rooms.

A door painted by the Scott-Snells

A steep spiral staircase brings you down the house, pausing at first floor level there was a display of paintings by Edward and Stephani Scott-Snell who leased the house for a few years after May died. Then back down to the ground floor.

Built to accommodate three

The gardens are worth a view too, a brewhouse, three seated privy, a mulberry tree and Medlar tree sit around the house.

The Mulberry tree

We could have headed back to the boat for lunch but decided on sampling the cafe. My usual safe jacket potato was followed by a very nice slice of gluten free carrot cake, Micks coffee and walnut cake also got the thumbs up, all at reasonable prices.

William in contemplation

A look around the village was next. More lovely houses with their tile stone roofs. Past the pub to St George’s Church. A simple small village church where William Morris, his wife and two daughters are buried. Interesting that William gets a loop on his M’s on the stone, but the others don’t.

M with a loop

Inside the church is simple, but hidden behind the small organ in the north transept are medieval wall paintings dating from before 1280 depicting Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel.

Medieval paintings

Normally when we visit churches of this size we are the only visitors, possibly for days, but today we had plenty of company. Shame we were the only ones to pop some coins through the whole in the wall to help with the upkeep.

St George’s

The manor was well worth a visit. This year it has been open from April to the end of August on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Only two more days to visit this year. Then the whole operation will close down for major works to take place enabling them to accommodate more visitors and do much needed remedial works on the house. If all is going well they will open for limited time next year, but the house will reopen to visitors in 2021 the 150th anniversary of when William Morris first moved to the house.

Which way?

After avoiding the hot outside all day, then avoiding the woofers and people, then avoiding the wobbly lads on day boats I headed out to see what I could see. I’d been warned that the friendly cover shouldn’t be pounced in as this outside might be missing some floor in places. So I headed across the field to a large wood pile. This was very interesting to climb and poke my arms in. A few friends kept me amused for a while but it was all over too quickly when She came calling for me.

Morris’s bed

1 lock, 3.04 miles, 0 bacon for us, 1 clambering mooring, 12:10 entry, 1 Elizabethan house, 3 floors, 2 peacocks, 1 wonderful attic, 2 slices cake, 2 cups of tea, 3 seated loo, 200 lbs of Mulberries, 1 little church, 4 in one, 3 hours, 1 big log pile, 1 cooling breeze, 1 cardigan back to where it should be.

More Kings And Queens. 5th August

Hampton Court Palace

Fountain Court

The Palace isn’t just Tudor, it was a Palace for other Kings and Queens too. When William III took the throne in 1689 he asked Christopher Wren to design a new Baroque palace . Originally the Tudor Palace was to be demolished, but the cost was to be too much for the Royal purse. Instead a third of the palace was replaced.

Pistols and daggers, who needs wallpaper

A grand staircase with small steps and huge painting takes you up to William’s state apartments. This was and still is an impressive way to enter. As with Henry VIII, visitors were vetted before being let through to the following rooms. The guard chamber is almost encrusted with weaponry showing Williams hunger for war. These were not just for show, but could be used by the army should the need arise.

Possibly the first chandelier of it’s kind in the country

Next follows a succession of chambers each with a throne and canopy. The further on you got the less fancy the canopy, but the chair beneath got comfier. Large paintings cover the walls and other than the throne there is little furniture in the rooms, instead they would have been filled with beautifully dressed courtiers. By the time you reach the Privy Chamber the chair is fluffed up and plump the canopy has disappeared, a wonderful crystal chandelier hangs in the centre of the room which lines up wonderfully with the Privy Garden outside.

Ginormous bed just for show
A very busy ceiling that would keep anyone awake

A huge bed sits in the Great Bedchamber, this is where the King was dressed in view public, an incredible painted ceiling above faces the on looker not the king. This was all for show, which the King would rather have lived without.

Padded toilet on a chest. Maybe a precursor to a Kilwick

Below the grand rooms are the more private apartments where the King really lived his life. Here his collections of favourite paintings hang on ropes, many of them night time scenes now hard to distinguish their content. The Orangery houses the orange and bay trees during the winter months, gives a great view down the Privy Garden.

The private dining room

These are less flamboyant rooms, cosy and homely. In his private dining room he surrounded himself with full length portraits of the Hampton Court Beauties. The serving area could be closed off after the meal leaving the king and his guests in peace.

Queen Anne followed doing a touch of remodelling herself. The Royal Chapel which had stained glass and a fantastic blue and gold ceiling from Henry VIII’s time was altered. The window frames left in place, but the glass depicting Henry, Katherine and Wolsey are long since gone. Much of the lower walls are now wood, vertical parquet covers the wall behind the alter and huge wooden columns attempt to hold up the Tudor ceiling. Sadly you’re not allowed to take photos here, the ceiling is great.

The Queens staircase

Then came the Georgians. George I built a set of rooms for his son in which he and his wife entertained lavishly. A new kitchen was also built which you can now stay in as it is one of the Landmark Trust properties, The Georgian House.

What a ceiling

When George II succeeded his father in 1727 the palace entered it’s last phase as a royal residence. The Queens staircase had a make over by the architect William Kent with Roman niches and trompe l’oeil panels below another great painted ceiling.

Two jolly chaps

The Queens Guard Chamber has quite a fireplace. Two men, possibly Yeomen of the Guard have the huge mantle piece resting on their hats. Here as else where in the Palace visitors would be vetted before being let further into the rooms.

Napkin artistry

The Public Dining Room is decorated with more impressive painting and a large table shows off a display of napkin artistry.

Wonderful costumes

Stood in the room are white costumes made from fibrous paper, these represent members of the court and have a small resume on their bodices or cuffs.

The period detail sewn into them is wonderful. There is a more sociable feel to these rooms than those of earlier periods. Courtiers would play games, gambling, loosing hundreds of thousands of pounds.

A bit more painting, anyone would think this was a palace!

By 1737 George II no longer wanted to use Hampton Court as a royal palace so it was filled with grace and favour residents. The accommodation not the best, some residents didn’t have access to hot water. Many residents were widows who’s husbands had worked for the monarch. This continued until the 1960’s and there are still a couple of elderly residents still living in the Palace.

A modern addition

In 1838 Queen Victoria decided to let the public see inside the palace and opened up its doors, this proved to be very popular.

Looking back to the house from the Privy Garden

The Privy Garden needed a closer look, especially as there was a nice boat moored just outside the Tijou Screen (a shame they still haven’t finished painting it!). After a fire damaged the palace in 1986 the decision was taken to restore the privy garden back to how it had been in William III’s time. The trees were kept clipped at 7 to 8 ft high and a view of the Thames was possible. This in later years had been left to grow and had got quite out of hand, no longer could the palace be seen from the river.

Mum feeding her not so small chick

During August there is plenty happening. The King Henry VIII’s sporting academy is taking place throughout the gardens. Real Tennis is played on the indoor court, there is fencing and sword fighting, wrestling, crossbow and falconry displays.

Royal Medication of the chilled variety

After quite a busy day we deserved some chilled medication and a good job we got it when we did as the stand closed soon afterwards. Mick had Chocolate Brownie and I had a very good Raspberry Sorbet, no gluten free cones today though!

From the rose garden

Other areas of the grounds are open to the public. The Rose and Kitchen garden were worth a wander around, plenty growing in the vegetable beds, they even had some Royal Blackberries!

Royal Harry
and his mate Dwain

Even though we’d been a touch reluctant to buy two full price tickets to the palace we were amazed at what we got for our money. We thoroughly enjoyed our visit, so much to see and do. We didn’t quite manage to see everything so we may come back another time to look at the galleries and go round the maze, however, we’ll try to time that with a two for one offer.


Property Game

This one was built by it’s current owners and has three bedrooms and two bathrooms.


Yesterdays Answer

https://www.tudorandco.co.uk/properties/12395356/sales

£1,295,000 no chain and it’s detached!

Sorry Ade, at least you were only a million out this time!

The One Who Survived, She’s Dead Now. 5th August

Hampton Court Palace Gates

Last night we spent some time deciding on what to do. We’d planned on using a two for one days out to go to the Palace today, making it far more acceptable to our pockets. But this is not available during the school holidays! We’d have to pay full price, even Mick wouldn’t get Old Git’s Rate.

One of the kitchens

In the end reason saw through our Yorkshire pockets and we purchased tickets on line, which saved us something. Paying more than £20 each we had to make the most of the day so planned on being at the gates as they opened for the day. This of course didn’t quite happen as we kept forgetting things like a coat should it rain again and a water bottle.

Discussing budgets

Our mooring and advance tickets meant we could gain entrance through a side gate and head straight to the main doors where our tickets were scanned and we were pointed in the right direction for an audio guide. These are well worth getting, plenty of interesting information as you walk round. With maps and guide where should we start? Henry VIII ‘s kitchens.

For the staff
For his royal nibs

The courtyards have atmospheric noises, reminiscent of those at Bletchely Park and footage of Tudor gents plays over bench backs, discussing purchases for the kitchens. The kitchens here didn’t only cater for Henry, his court and guests, but on a daily basis there were 400 people to cater for. Henry not only wanted the best of English, roast beef was always on the menu, but also spices from far afield. The staff would have one meal and the Royals would have another of two courses, but this had many different plates.

Chopping
Boards

The kitchens are huge with high ceilings, at least six fires were used for cooking. Chopping boards line one bench, if you put your hands on the board hands and knives are projected chopping and grinding ingredients.

Roasting by the fire

One fire was lit today with a chap wearing heavy woolen clothing turning a spit. Here two large joints, by modern standards, of beef were roasting. The kitchen each year would use 1.3 million logs to cook the palaces food. The logs piled up were each bigger than our stove on Oleanna.

Wine cellar

Rooms of pewter and linen headed off to the sides of the serving corridor and then a vaulted wine cellar big enough to house several families. The Tudors liked their wine and beer, but they still drank water, it’s not mentioned as much in records, because once the lead pipes were in the water was free. The water for the Palace came from a spring three miles away.

We refrained from buying anything from the Kitchen shop and headed on to Henry VIII’s Apartments.

The Great Hall

Walking into the Great Hall you could hear everyone’s gasps of awe at the sight. Such a wonderful ceiling, which now is tame in colour to what it would have been. Large stained glass windows, wooden carved deer heads and tapestries measuring 5m by 8m, my photos don’t do it justice.

Henry in the window

Tables are laid up with cloths for you to sit at, it was good manners to undo ones’ belt as you sat down rather than when it became necessary during a meal. Here banquets would be held with all the trimmings for such a fine room, but on normal days this was actually the staff canteen and Henry was more likely to eat in his private rooms.

Gilt ceiling

The great Watching Chamber follows with it’s wonderful gilt ceiling. Here Yeomen of the Guard would stand watch controlling access to the state rooms, only high ranking visitors were permitted beyond this room. Through the next few rooms the visitors were filtered, only those of very high rank would make it to the final room and meet the King.

Henry VIII

Cardinal Wolsey first acquired Hampton Court in 1514 and transformed it from a manor house into a Palace for Henry. He collected tapestries and treasures for the palace, but lost them all to the King when in 1529 he fell from power. The King loved to show off and Hampton Court was just the place to do that.

Not bad for a clock tower

The Young Henry VIII’s story is just that, the story of his earlier years as King. Rooms are laid out with large backed oak chairs telling his story. He was the first king in 100 years to inherit the throne peacefully from his father. Once king he soon married Katherine of Aragon, she had been briefly married to his brother before he died. Katherine produced children, three boys all of whom died soon after birth or were still born, only Princess Mary survived past the age of seven weeks. Was the Kings marriage a cursed one, him having married his brothers wife?

Anne Boleyn came on the scene, the King fell in love and secretly married her in 1532, still married to Katherine whom he managed to divorce a year later. This is where the saying Divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived started from. As a child I never learnt this, but Mick did. However he did today add that the one who survived Henry, she’s now dead!

Still having our tickets meant that we didn’t have to folk out £20 plus for lunch and could return home instead. We handed back our audio tour and had a comfortable sit down back at Oleanna.


Property Game

5 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms with river moorings.

0 locks, 0 miles, 2 cheap internet tickets, 2 4 1 not available in school holidays, 2 days mooring booked, 2 audio tours, 400 mouths to feed, 6 fires, 1.3 million logs, 6 wives, too many wonderful chimneys to count.

Yesterdays Answer

https://www.watersideresidential.co.uk/property-for-sale/?id=10245&type=2

£799,950 for 3 bedrooms with pedestrian access, but with two moorings.

Sorry Ade you were miles out with £2.7 million.

Twice As Big As The One On EasyJet. 3rd August

Pyrford Marina to Byfleet Cruising Club

The voice of Houdini woke us this morning, we were breakfasted and cruising far earlier than normal. Not far to go by boat this morning, just over a mile which brought us very close to the M25 and it’s constant rumble. We pulled in just after the Byfleet Cruising Club moorings on what we thought were visitor moorings. Our pack of info from the National Trust had suggested here as a mooring, but it seems that we might have pulled in on space meant for the cruising club. One chap asked if we were staying long and if it would be okay if we got breasted up to, (which it was as) another tried to make them sound a touch more friendly by inviting us to use all their facilities. We made sure that they knew we’d been pointed to the mooring by the NT.

Far away plane

We walked up to the busy main road which crosses the canal and then very soon afterwards the M25. Here we caught a 436 bus to Tescos. The route took us around the houses before it reached the huge store, another couple of stops and we thought we’d reached our destination. However we still had quite a walk, it did mean that we had chance to watch people zooming along a race track and on skid pans in shiny cars at Mercededs Benz World. All a bit too fast for us.

We were at Brooklands. The worlds first purpose built motor racing circuit which opened it’s 2.75 mile track in 1907. It is also the site of one of Britain’s first airfields which also became Britain’s largest aircraft manufacturing centre by 1918. Here they produced military aircraft such as the Wellington and civil airliners like the Viscount and VC-10. The first British Grand Prix was held here in 1926.

Part of the race track

The race track banks up around the site, roads now cut their way through it, Tescos at one end and Brooklands Museum at the other. In 1987 a trust was set up and a 30 acre site was ear marked for the museum where the heritage of Brooklands could be celebrated. The finishing straight of the race track is on the site and the northern half of the runway was still used occasionally until 2003, in 2004 it was sold off and is now Mercedes Benz World.

Brooklands clubhouse

Brooklands hosts collections of racing cars, motorbikes, aeroplanes and the London Bus Museum. We’d been warned that there was far too much to do in just one day so we decided to concentrate on the planes and buses.

Concord

Mick’s Dad flew with the RAF during WW2 and then with BEA on civil airliners. Because of this we headed straight out to see the planes. The first production Concorde sits in central position, you can pay extra to go on board, but we decided just to look from the outside. Her total flying hours 1,282hrs 9 minutes lags somewhat behind Oleannas 2,540hrs. It would have been nice to look inside the narrow plane, but we had far more important planes to look at.

Stepping down from the Sultan of Oman s VC-10

There are plenty of volunteers on hand, they range from men who know everything about how a plane worked and tell you all about it (so much so we could most probably service a VC10 now), to ones who tell you how the planes were used, to ones interested in your own connections to the planes,

Us reluctantly having our photo taken, I’ve had to zoom in quite a long way!

to one who insisted on taking our photo in front of a Hawker Harrier (it was easier just to let him do it), to one who was far more interested in hearing about our life on a narrowboat than telling us anything about the cockpit we manged to get sat in.

Twice as big
Toilet and bidet with ten times more space

There are two VC-10’s, one without wings or a tail. A family were looking round in front of us ‘That toilet’s twice as big as the ones on EasyJet!’ They were most probably right, I’d hate to have heard what they had to say about the toilet on the Sultan of Oman’s plane, it was half the size of Oleanna! There were also double beds with seat belts and everything covered in chrome green velour.

Seat belts on your bed

These planes are really quite big when you take all the seats out of them. The smell of the fixtures and fittings along with years of cigarette smoke that worked it’s way in behind all the panels was quite evocative.

Viscount

Mick’s Dad flew Vicker’s Viscounts and Vanguards and here we got chance to go on board. The Viscount was most probably the first plane Mick ever went on with it’s big oval windows.

Plenty of controls

On the Vanguard a team of old chaps who had been ground engineers at Heathrow chatted away to Mick. These fellows had most probably known his Dad, Mick found an old photo on his phone of him in uniform, but it was badly lit so hard to see his face properly. This plane had been used for cargo, all the windows covered up, horses had been transported to the Olympics in Barcelona. Up front we could sit in the cockpit, Mick taking the Captains seat, was this a seat his Dad had actually sat in? We’ll have to check with those who hold Peter’s log book.

Mick sat in a seat his Dad almost certainly sat in

Unfortunately the chap who was going to tell us all about the flight deck was more interested in our life and gave us absolutely no information even though we kept trying, he was also a touch deaf. What will happen in such places when all the old chaps who volunteer have passed away?

The best design

There are new modern exhibitions in the Aircraft Factory where Mick managed to design a plane suitable to carry cargo using a runway of 1km.

The Stratosphere Chamber door rolled out of the way

There’s also a Stratosphere Chamber where Barnes Wallis carried out experiments to do with temperature and pressure. There are rooms laid out as if in the 20’s when the circuit and airfield were busy.

Horse Drawn

After a sit down and some lunch we looked around the London Bus Museum. Here the collection starts with a horse bus built around 1890 and the collection of rescued vehicles brings you almost up to date. The plaque saying that the Routemaster was the last vehicle designed for London Transport is a bit out of date as the Boris bus now drives round London.

The displays and information boards are huge, matching the size of the buses a shame a few of them are hidden behind the buses.

Winding the blind

You can wind a destination blind and go on board a couple of the latter buses where turnstiles would allow you to buy your own ticket. I don’t remember these, maybe they didn’t exist in York.

Conductor
Our tickets

The opportunity to ride on an RT was not to be missed, sadly we didn’t get the front seat, but it was still good. Mick used to get these to school in Ealing and the conductor today took our £1 coins and turned the handle on his ticket machine to produce our tickets. The amount of windows you could open are far better than on a Boris bus, but the suspension could have been better.

No 65
Twin Rover a bit early to have been one of Mick’s

A hunt round the displays and we found the Bus 65 time table, an often used route and a Child’s Twin Rover ticket. Mick and his mate Tony Silver used to get these when they’d saved up enough pocket money to spend a Saturday on the buses, going from one end of a route to the other and then getting on the next bus and seeing where that got them.

A quick look at some of the cars before we left and walked our way down where the runway had been towards Tescos. A few items were purchased before we caught the bus back to Oleanna.

Advert on a bus

Tilly had had a busy day keeping an eye on our new neighbour. What a composed fluffy ginger cat. For a while we wondered if it was alive, then eventually it did a considered slow blink.

What a stare
Slow blink

0 locks, 1.31 miles, 3 buses, 4 tickets, 6 planes, 2 cockpits, 1 seat sat in, 18,300 planes built, 1st Grand Prix, 5s twin rover, 65, 165, 2 jacket potatoes, 1 bored cat, 1 confupuss neighbour, M25 to rock us to sleep just 200ft away.

With the sound turned up!