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Archive for the ‘Day Trips from London’ Category

I returned to Waddesdon Manor for the Xmas displays.  Last year it was tents and Britney Spears; this year a Field of Lights by Bruce Munro.  My camera could not do it justice and then I ran out of battery.  The light show on the house was great and seemed to be more frequent.  And again a Xmas market with cheese, mulled wine and mince pies.  No big dogs but they are back on 11th December.

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Visited the Hellfire Caves on the way to Waddesdon Manor in West Wycombe. A great and strange museum with lots of tunnels leading around and around with plaques on the walls telling stories of the Hellfire Club, led by Sir Francis Dashwood and friends who dressed as monks and sometimes met within the tunnels for banquets; practical jokes with baboons; visits by Benjamin Franklin and a bride who haunt the tunnels.  And there are waxworks, lots of them, which is always a favourite of mine.  Very entertaining and very different.  A short walk up the hill takes you to a church and unusual mausoleum built for the Dashwood family.  The Caves are open all year and were warmer inside than outside.  Loved them.  One for all the family.

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It has been over 3 years since we visited Cass Sculpture Foundation in Autumn 2012 and such a difference experience.  This time it was raining but that wasn’t the greatest change; to our surprise the vast majority of the sculpture had changed as well.  There is also a great exhibition of Chinese sculpture A Beautiful Disorder.  We will be back again in 3 years; cannot recommend it enough.  There are loads of seats around and a picnic area and they don’t throw you out at closing time as the gate opens automatically – so given sunshine you can sit, eat and enjoy the view.

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Day trip to the Suffolk coast on Sunday – set off early and drove for just over 2 hours to Aldeburgh.  Didn’t know what to expect as I’ve never been to Suffolk but really liked this place and will go back again.  It has narrow streets with colourful buildings, 2 of the best chippies in UK (with very long queues), interesting places to eat and shop and a beautiful, long shingle beach. It was a Sunday bank holiday but parked easily.  We went to look at the Scallop, a shell sculpture on the beach dedicated to Benjamin Britten and then drove on to Southwold.  Another very British seaside resort with a long sandy beach and row up on row of colourful huts, a pier with a wall dedicated to George Orwell (who had lived next to a chippie in the town) and a lovely high street with a town green and a lighthouse.  Both towns have walks in the area and when we return we will spend longer in the area to do these.  The showers put us off this time around.

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Visited Waddesdon Manor on Sunday evening, primarily to see Bruce Munro’s Winter Light. Loved it.  Bit bonkers and there were many bemused visitors. It is hard to describe how lines of tents changing colour with a soundtrack which is like tuning in a radio, so a snippet of Britney followed by Fleetwood Mac, can be so uplifting.  They also run a light show on the facade of the house and surrounding trees for 4 minutes, twice an hour.  They should do it more frequently as you need to watch the house once and then the trees with Joana Vasconcelos’ bottle sculptures in front of them.

There is a Xmas market, mainly food with lots of cheese and mulled cider, and at the Stables a lot of large black dogs padding around – never got the bottom of that – and a great sweet shop.  Illuminated tents, Britney, cheese, cider, boiled sweets and large black dogs – what’s not to like.

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Another day trip out of London.  This one took about 2.5 hours and a was a late return but worth it.  We were off to Houghton Hall to see the James Turrell LightScape, a series of light installations, which includes several site-specific works and a illumination of the entire west façade of the Hall which takes place after sunset for nearly an hour.  En route we stopped at Brandon Country Park for a short hike through the woods and then continued on to the Hall.  They have a late night opening on Friday and Saturdays so we arrived just after 5pm.

There are permanent art installations in the gardens with amongst others Rachel Whiteread, Richard Long, Zhan Wang and Jeppe Hein.  There are also a couple of permanent Turrell’s: Skyspace and Space Division.  The latter is in a water tank and you may have to wait to get in, taking shoes off and groping along the walls in the dark six people at a time.  It is pitch black and then the magic happens.  There are several more Turrell’s inside the house for the exhibition.  The cafe is great and there are also drinks and food stands in the grounds along with deckchairs for the illumination.  We took a sleeping bag to sit on and a picnic.  I was freezing totally underestimating how cold it can get in August so wrap up.  The illumination is beautiful and subtle with the windows, arches and the domes lit up and the colour changing slowly.  The camera could not do it justice so go and see for yourself as it is on until 24th October.

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Took ourselves off for a day out to Chichester.  Two hour drive from North London and arrived in time for coffee at the Pallant House Gallery to see the Nek Chand rock sculptures in the garden.  Then a wander up to the Cathedral to see the Chagall stain glass window.  We then drove down to the Witterings which were busy as it was a hot day but we were on a loop of a walk up the beach.  Just away from the sunbathers there were lots of dogs charging around, shells, sand dunes and a stiff wind – very British and beautiful seaside.  We ended by stopping off at the West Dean Annual Chilli Fiesta, eating and tasting everything to do with chilli with varying degrees of heat.  Great day out.

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