Friday, 13 September 2013

What I Did on My Holidays

I have just returned home after spending a few days at my parents home in Devon, which has been lovely and relaxing.
A La Ronde
On Sunday, my parents had  a prior commitment to ring a quarter peal near Exmouth, so, as I didn't wish to sit in a churchyard for an hour, they dropped me off at A La Ronde which is now owned by the National Trust. It's a fascinating house - it was originally built in around 1795 for two spinster cousins, and is 16-sided, built around a central octagonal hall.
The original design included sliding doors into all of the main rooms, little triangular cupboards in the gaps between the rooms, and diamond shaped windows. The ladies moved around the house following the sun each day, so their bedrooms faced East, and so forth, so that they always had the best of the light. 

They were very good at handicrafts and were responsible for much of the interior decor themselves - the frieze you can see around the top of the wall is made from feathers, for instance, and the piece de resistance is the 'shell gallery' which is in the top of the house, (and too delicate to be visited except via cctv) which was made by the cousins from the shells and other curios they collected (they travelled extensively on the Continent before they settled down in the house) 

When the ladies died, they left instructions that the house should always go to an unmarried female descendant, and this continued until 1866 when there were no more unmarried female descendants, and the house passed to a male relation, who added some impressively large, steam-powered Victorian radiators, knocked some of the rooms together to make larger ones (and moved the bedrooms upstairs)

It's a strange house, but must have been a nice place to live - there are lovely views out to sea.

Later in the week we went to the seaside - we picked the right day for it - it had started out rather grey and breezy, but there were lots of sunny intervals, and as the school holidays are now over, the beach was pretty empty.

We went home via Ilfracombe to see Damien Hirst's Verity which is very imposing. I suspect it may be seen to best advantage from out at sea.

We also had one much wetter day, and we decided, based on a conversation we had, to visit the Tiverton Museum. My Grannie lived in Tiverton, and when we were little children, we used to be taken to the museum when we visited. I haven't been there since I was about 9 or 10, and I was explaining to my parents that, as far as I recalled, the museum had only one exhibit - a Big Green Railway Engine!

They tried to convince me that there were, in fact, quite a few other exhibits, as well, so we went to see,

It turns out that they were right. The museum also has a number of other exhibits, including lots of farm carts, and lace-making machines, but the engine is still the beast bit!

 Apparently it was bought and given to the museum in 1963, when Dr  Beeching shut the local railway, and has been here ever since. My Dad was reminiscing about being allowed to ride with the driver when coming back from visiting relations, as a small boy (which I suspect must have been against the Railway Regulations, even in the 1950s)

It was a very enjoyable visit. And only slightly marred by the huge queue of traffic I got caught in on my drive home, which involved my sitting in near stationary traffic for around an hour.

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