Archive for November, 2014


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hand-in-mudHere’s my third extract from the book ‘Noah’s Children’ by Sara Stein. Here she urges us to create ‘wild’ places for children to explore and enjoy in their own backyards…

‘Girls and boys come out to play! But they will not unless we summon them with the piper’s tune of mud and rushes, not sprinklers mechanically circling an uninhabited lawn.

I want a word and cannot find it. What is the opposite of tame?

If our children are to grow up at home in their environment, in appreciation that its sharing among other lives is essential to our own life and livelihood, and with the intelligence to wisely manage it, we must wild the land.’

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this and the wider issues raised…

richmond-pk-denOld School Gardener

Gardening with Children

National Tree Week (29 Nov – 7 Dec) begins on Saturday and with it the start of the tree planting season, it was launched in 1975 and is the UK’s largest annual tree celebration inspiring upward of a quarter of a million people to get their hands dirty and plant a million trees.

Trees make an attractive focal point in any garden, they are havens for wildlife too, providing homes and food for caterpillars (leaves), insects (flowers, leaves), beetles and larvae (trunk, rotting wood) these in turn are food for animals and birds especially newly fledged youngsters or hungry chicks still in the nest, in Autumn and Winter their fruits/berries and seeds provide a welcome meal for birds and animals, trees really are a very important part of the wild food chain.

If you are thinking of planting a tree you will need to consider where you are going to…

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Shine A Light Project

By Sophie Towne

Some time ago at The Norfolk Museums Collection Centre we unearthed a carved bracket in the shape of a horse. At first we were unsure of his species and a popular Twitter and Facebook guessing game commenced where you gave suggestions as to whether he was a lion, a horse, a dog, a lamb or a mythical hybrid. He’s a rather sweet little thing with a curly mane and fringe as well as a long swishy tail and furry legs.

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We updated his records and found out that he was indeed a horse and what is more we managed to track down his original location. So the detective work began again…

From a bit of research, and some help from our Curatorial Consultant, Helen Renton, we found out that he once graced the top of a staircase at Strangers’ Hall in Norwich. We have actual proof of…

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Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse

My job role in the last six months has changed significantly. I have gone from organising various events to researching the current wedding market. My focus in this blog is to look at the ‘traditional wedding’ through the ages, and explore the differences to the modern day wedding.

Medieval Weddings

During the middle ages, there was a rise in marriage laws. In 1076 The Council of Westminster enforced the law that meant a priest must bless a marriage therefore contracts and legal documents started to be drawn up, similar to today’s marriage contracts and licenses.

The finest silks with gold or silver embroidery would be worn, brightly colored fabrics were popular and men would wear their finest court attire. Jewelry, furs and elaborate belts adorned every noble body.

White is now the symbol of purity, and most wedding dresses made in this hue. In the middle ages this wasn’t so…

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Seafront Walkway, Malaga, Spain

Old School Gardener

WP_20140928_17_26_24_ProThis last ‘garden’ from our recent trip to Portugal, is a bit of a cheat. The main attraction is the gothic splendour of the monastery and associated cathedral, but there are some wonderful outdoor spaces too, so I think its worth sharing.

The monastery was founded by the first Portuguese King, Afonso Henriques, in 1153, and has maintained a close association with the Kings and Queens of Portugal throughout its history, housing several royal tombs and the national pantheon.

The church and monastery were the first gothic buildings in Portugal, and, due to its artistic and historical importance, was listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1989. The Cathedral is the largest church building in Portugal and has a relatively simple undecorated interior- I was fully expecting golden baroque splendour on entering, but was pleasantly surprised.

The Cathedral is perhaps most famous for housing the tombs of King Pedro I and his mistress, Ines de Castro, assassinated, in 1355, under the orders of Peter’s father, King Afonso IV. After becoming King, Pedro ordered the remains of his beloved to be transferred to her tomb in Alcobaça and, according to a popular legend, had her crowned as Queen of Portugal and ordered court members to pay her homage by kissing her decomposing hand.

This pair of Royal tombs, of unknown authorship, are among the best works of gothic sculpture in Portugal. The tombs are supported by lions, in the case of the King, and half-men half-beasts, in the case of Ines, and both carry the recumbent figures of the deceased assisted by a group of angels. The sides of Pedro’s tomb are magnificently decorated with reliefs showing scenes from Saint Batholomew’s life, as well as scenes from Pedro and Ines’ life. Her tomb is decorated with scenes from the life of Christ.

The monastery complex provides an interesting, and, as expected, relatively simple series of rooms and spaces where the monks went about their everyday business.

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Outside, the cloister is a most inspiring space, simply furnished (and with some sympathetic conservation) with a few trees and close-cut box bushes- I was fortunate to capture it in the afternoon sun. The monastic gardens- not open to the public- are a fine example of box-edged parterres enclosing a series of beds that once were used for growing food and herbs. This important site lies about an hour’s drive north of Lisbon and is an area I hope to visit again as there are other landscapes and historical sites nearby, that we didn’t have time to visit.

Source and further information: Wikipedia

 Old School Gardener

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Lisbon, Portugal

Old School Gardener

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We’ve been to Lisbon, Portugal quite a few times, but only on our most recent trip did we discover a beautful little restaurant/club/social centre/cultural hub close to the restaurant quarter- Casa do Alentejo.

While the outside of the former Palacio Alverca is unspectacular, its true beauty lies inside: moorish design including beautiful tiles and a huge patio. It was created 85 years ago, as a meeting place for people from Portugal’s historical province Alentejo (além Tejo means beyond the Tagus) and to cultivate its unique culture. At that time many people from this region left home in search for a better life in Lisbon.

The palace dates from the last quarter of the 17th C., but its current appearance is a result of considerable alterations carried out in 1918. Nowadays it’s the headquarters of the association of the Alentejo people. Many activities take place here: on Saturdays there are ‘Alentejo afternoons’ (tardes Alentejanas), with choral groups. On Sundays, dancing begins at 3;30 pm. Mostly elderly people come here to socialize. There’s also a library and a handicraft shop of typical products of the Alentejo region.

The dining rooms are picturesque, with open fireplaces and decorated with beautiful tiles (azulejos). The azulejo is a form of Portuguese painted, tin-glazed, ceramic tilework (Azulejo comes from the Arabic word az-zulayj, meaning polished stone).

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