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Sunday, 27 September 2015

Small Worlds Exhibition in Bath

At the end of August Laura took a day trip to Bath.  She wanted to see the Small Worlds Exhibition which is currently (until early November 2015) being hosted at No 1 Royal Crescent in Bath.  

The Royal Crescent, Bath. No 1 Royal Crescent is on the right
Laura was interested to see what No 1 was like in 1772.  The dolls house exhibition in 2015 is on display in the top floor of the little annex building on the right
Laura liked the model of No 1 Royal Crescent
No photography was allowed in the Small Worlds dolls house exhibition as Lisa Antrim who had collected all the amazing dolls houses and miniatures did not given permission for the public to take photos, though Laura noticed that another person going around the exhibition was taking photos even though there were no photography signs everywhere.  The houses and miniatures on display were fascinating.
After visiting the dolls house exhibition Laura and her friend did the children's trail around No 1 Royal Crescent to find out what life was like 250 years ago in the very fashionable city of Bath
In the gentleman's room there were lots of interesting scientific objects including a telescope which Laura tried
Laura also discovered the globe in the Gentleman's room
In the dining room of No 1 Royal Crescent was one dollshouse from the Small Worlds exhibition which could be photographed, apparently because it contains no furniture. This was Swallowcliffe c1826-1830
Swallowcliffe, with its doors propped open 
Upstairs in the guest room for a Lady was a marquetry table.  Laura was interested to see the miniature grandfather clock on the table
Apparently the main pastime of Bath society was gambling, people were obsessed with it and even played gambling games in their bedrooms
This sewing table would have been used by the Lady's maid to make alterations or repairs to the Lady's gowns.  There was no wardrobe in the bedroom, all gowns were kept in a room upstairs and brought down for the Lady or Gentleman to choose.
Fine embroidered clothes laid out on the Lady's guest bed
The Lady's guest bed
The Lady's dressing table and wig.  Apparently they also had long sticks to scratch their heads through the wigs.  Why did they need to scratch?  Because everyone was infested with headlice!
It was fashionable to come to Bath and rent a house or rooms for several weeks rather than own a town house and a country house.  No 1 Royal Crescent was one such house so there would have been few personally owned items or family portraits on display.
The house keeper's room - she was the most powerful servant in the house
In 18th century kitchens every able bodied creature was used to provide power, this was a dog driven wheel for turning the roasting spit.
A dog driven wheel for turning the roasting spit
In the Servant's room in the basement is a large (modern) Georgian dollshouse which has been decorated during 2015 in a project with a local primary school and Age Concern, who were taught how to make a variety of miniatures by expert miniaturists.  The project is called Miniature Mania: small worlds, big discoveries.  You can read all about it at  The children and adults were guided to make particular objects for the house (such as paintings, miniature food, doll making, the rocking horse and wallpapering).  Apparently the project continues in the new school year as more children from St Andrew's school are helping to decorate smaller dolls houses together with the group from Age Concern.  I think every school in the country should have a project like this!
The notice explaining about the Small Worlds dollshouse project
Laura was very pleased to see the Small Worlds dollshouse project house, now complete and on display
Laura was good to stand behind the barrier as the notice requested even though she wanted to get much closer to the house to peer inside
A portrait gallery in the house
The nursery
The children's bedroom
The gentleman in his bedroom
The top landing
The Lady in her bedroom
The grand central staircase
The kitchen
Laura was impressed with the size of the house and how much happy teamwork went into decorating it
There were some dollshouses for young children to play with in the Servant's hall
After she visited No 1 Royal Crescent Laura went to see Bath Abbey.  There was a visiting choir rehearsing for Evensong with the organ and Laura enjoyed listening to the music as she explored the Abbey.
Bath Abbey with the visiting choir
Bath Abbey with the visiting choir and the organ
After exploring inside Bath Abbey and buying a badge from the shop Laura stood outside the west end of the Abbey on the busy pavement near the Roman Baths (which she did not visit).
Bath Abbey and the Roman Baths
The Small Worlds exhibition at No 1 Royal Crescent is open until 8 November 2015.  It is well worth visiting.  There are 10 dollshouses from the private collection of Lisa Antrim on display including Fry House and Bellamy House.  In the shop at No 1 Royal Crescent was a wonderful book by Lisa called "Family Dolls' Houses of the 18th and 19th Centuries" however it was too large to carry around all day and Laura's budget didn't stretch to purchasing a signed copy of the wonderful book.  It contains beautiful photos of all the houses in the collection plus a wealth of research and restoration expertise.  Laura bought the set of postcards featuring each house in the exhibition instead.

Sunday, 30 August 2015

Grand Summer Gymkhana gathering

This is a photo heavy post, so a cuppa, biscuit and a comfortable chair might be needed!  You may have seen Lorraine's version of this at (I'm so glad she blogged first as I am less familiar with horse riding terms than she and Jocelyn are, as they both did horse riding).

The day for the Grand Summer Gymkhana dawned bright and warm.  The riders, horses, judges and spectators gathered eagerly, especially as the previously arranged date was rained off in May.

Bobby on Indiana tested out the fences ahead of the main events ...
... while the riders and horses gathered in the holding area
Miranda and her foal watched Bobby
The spectators and judges chatted ...
... as Bobby and Henry continued to walk their horses around the ring
Jocelyn's fence announced the 'Horse Jumping competition'
The prizes were all on display and the competition began
Bobby the Cowboy approached the first fence on Indiana
Bobby cleared the first jump and approached the second as Henry prepared to start
Unfortunately Henry had a disaster with his first jump as Stratford's hooves knocked down the fence however Henry held on tight so he didn't fall.
Henry and Stratford approached the second fence just as Bobby completed the circuit and went to take his bow.
Fortunately Henry and Straford cleared the second fence without mishap and galloped up to the third fence which they jumped over successfully, much to Henry's relief.
Back in the holding area Henry told Stratford how brilliant he was despite the first fence as he felt he rather than Stratford had mistimed the approach so they would work together to improve their jumping.
Meanwhile Nicholas James and Wren reassembled the broken fence
Wren added the finishing touches to make it ready for the next rider
Peggy Sue received encouragement from Alice as she was a little nervous and was feeling self conscious because she didn't have a hat or smart riding clothes, however Alice reassured her that the competition was open to any rider.
Peggy Sue and Pacific Sunrise (Misty) approached the first fence in fine style
They cleared it with ease and galloped up to the second fence
After jumping the second fence they were not daunted by the third fence
Peggy Sue and Pacific Sunrise saluted the judges when they finished their perfect round
The audience including toddler Edmund, Florence and Wren were thoroughly enjoying the competition, Edmund was longing to have a ride but was content for this time to watch the others with the foal beside him.
But what's this? A puppy from the audience was making his way onto the ring ...
... just as Davy on High Steps was lining up for the first fence
Fortunately Davy and his Appaloosa successfully cleared the jump, skirted around the puppy and Wren rushed out to capture the escapee
"I'll have to keep a close eye on you, naughty pup" said Wren has she carried the puppy back to the spectators
Davy and High Steps had no trouble with the second fence 
and the third fence didn't cause them any problems either
Davy and High Steps bowed to the judges
Next it was Laura's turn with Emily, they had plenty of experience and approached the first fence with self assured poise 
As the others in the holding area watched, Laura and Emily lined up for the second fence while they considered their timing for the third as well
A perfect jump and clean approach to the third and highest fence resulted in a successful final jump too
As the audience applauded Laura and Emily saluted the judges
By contrast Flora and her new young horse Rufus were new to the circuit, however they successfully cleared the first jump mainly down to Flora's enthusiastic and positive encouragement of the rather reluctant Rufus
Unfortunately for Flora at the next fence Rufus refused to jump and walked through it instead, knocking down the bar
Flora was relieved that she had remembered to bandage his forelegs before they started so he wasn't hurt by the bar falling
Rufus was also not keen on the third fence especially as it was higher than the others ...
... Rufus shied away and passed the final fence
With a lump in her throat Flora bravely saluted the judges as she completed the round, she knew she had some work to do with Rufus to increase his confidence for higher jumps
The judges  and audience could sense Flora's disappointment as she gave the salute
Davy and Bobby relaxed on the grass with their horses as they watched the competition
Laura and Henry discussed their rounds
Henry and Laura chatted eagerly about the horses as they waited for the next rider
Ella and Snowfall began their round confidently with a good first jump
However they weren't so lucky when they landed after clearing the second fence as poor Ella tumbled from the saddle
"Stop Snowfall!" cried Ella as she started to pull herself up again
The tumble gave both Snowfall and Ella a fright ...
... which meant that when they approached the third fence Snowfall refused to jump
However they made their way to complete the round with a salute to the judges, feeling rather dishevelled and disorientated
"... did you see that? I hope Ella is okay?" said Henry to Laura.  "So do I, I think Ella needs a hug she looks so upset" said Laura and the two friends went to console their friend as she returned with Snowflake to the holding area when the competition finished
Miranda and her foal were not taking part in the competition, as part of her training Miranda showed the foal around the ring.
Wren sat side saddle on Edmund's foal as she watched Miranda
The foal walked with Miranda to the second fence
Trendon Elliott and Alice were deep in conversation and did not pay any attention to Nicholas James who was trying to get them to help him deliberate over the results
Miranda earnestly encouraged the foal to approach the third fence and explained in a friendly voice about jumping.
Wren had aspirations about being a circus rider as she waited for the judging to finish.  Edmund watched her with some amazement.
"Have you decided the results?" asked Miranda
"Yes, I have" said Nicholas James and quietly explained to Miranda, who fully supported his decisions.
Nicholas James called some of the riders and horses to approach him at the trophy table which was brought out into the ring.  "This competition was about participating and enjoying our horses.  You all did well, even if you don't think you did, the most important part was trying your best, working with and encouraging your horse when things went to plan as well as when they didn't.  You all displayed courage and patience, so well done for a great effort - I think this has been a very successful event."
Peggy Sue was amazed when Nicholas James presented Pacific Sunrise with a blue rosette and her with a trophy for doing so well in their first competition.
"For me?" she exclaimed
Emily was soon wearing a pink rosette and Laura graciously accepted the other trophy from Nicholas James for their perfect round
"Thank you" said Laura as she held her trophy
Henry was awarded a medal for completing his round calmly even after the mishap with the first jump.  He was very surprised and thought about what Nicholas James had said in his speech.  He was convinced that Davy and Bobby would have received a medal instead of him, however the medals were not for winners but for encouraging improvement.
Flora received a medal for sportsmanship and enthusiastically encouraging Rufus around the course.  She was amazed and waved excitedly to the crowd.
Flora and Henry with their medals as the Grand Summer Gymkhana came to a close
I would like to thank Lorraine and Jocelyn for inviting me and my younger daughter to participate in the doll horse gymkhana.  We attempted to do this in May however on the chosen day when we met it was clear that the rain would not stop and a large mop and bucket would be needed to make the lawn dry enough to use.  However we used that wet day to plan more features for the event and were eventually able to reassemble in August on a glorious day (though it got breezy which made standing the dolls and horses a challenge for any length of time on the lawn).  I had made the wooden fence in time for the first date, Jocelyn had acquired the highest fence earlier (which I think is what gave them the idea) and on the day we dreamed up the first fence by using Weetabix (later fed to Lorraine's guinea pigs)!

This event was not exclusive to Sasha dolls.  Peggy Sue (Schoenhut), Bobby (Kids 'n Kats) and Wren (Makie) were very welcome and we would have brought some of our modern Gotz dolls and Jakob (Kids 'n Kats) downstairs to join in too (though their riding outfits were borrowed for the Sasha dolls, so they would have been spectators instead) if we had enough seats for them.

The four of us had a lot of fun setting up this scene, taking photos and discussing the next moves before the breeze decided them for us (dry weetabix is lightweight)!  We finished the day with tea and cake.