Gardening

Update, 24/03. After 15 days, the herb garden looks like this:
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As I’ve already disclosed in an older post, I’m a serial plant killer. But now, I am so happy with my attempts on gardening.

Last year we’ve bought the bushes, that already had ~50cm in height. They are doing great so far and I’m sure this year they will grow bigger. So far they are still alive!!

In the winter I’ve sowed bulbs of snowdrops, hyacinth and tulips. Until recently I’ve kept them in the back yard. But there isn’t enough sun for them and we couldn’t enjoy them, as it was too cold to stay outside. Anyway, it’s not like I could have done something bad to them… I’ve sowed the bulbs and they grew by themselves. I’ve decided to let nature take the course and I didn’t pour any water on them. I think was better like that and not my usual approach: no water for 10 days – gallons of water after that.
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This is my soon-to-be herb garden. I’ve sowed the seeds a few days ago and now I wait for them to germinate. Hubby helped me and put a small plastic bag on top of each to make a greehouse-ish effect.

I hope they will grow. Unlike with the flowers, I’m very careful with the plants that I eat and I still have a basil from last year! I would love to have new 10 herbs and cook with them.
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Port Sunlight

Port Sunlight is one of my favourite places. I love the tranquility of the village, the truly inspirational story behind it and the beautiful Victorian buildings and parks.

Last year the Port Sunlight Museum was refurbished. We’ve visited today and we’ve enjoyed it very much. William Lever was such an amazing man. He was a real visionary and his legacy lives even today.

This building, Lever House, is one of the Unilever’s offices. Unilever was created in 1927, a few years after W. Lever’s death, by merging Lever with a dutch company. The story of the merger looks very interesting, I have a small booklet from the Unilever offices about the history of the company.
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This is the coat of arms, in the entrance hall.
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Lever had issues with his old factory in Warrington and bankers, only a few miles away from Port Sunlight. So, he found this place in Wirral with a great strategic location. He built a factory in less than 1 year, he also built his own port and train rails to get the raw materials.

For the workers he wanted special homes, as he said in 1988, at the inaugural banquet at the “Sunlight Works”:

“…it is my hope, and my brother’s hope, some day to build houses in which our work-people will be able to live and be comfortable. Semi-detached houses, with gardens back and front, in which they will be able to know more about the science of life than they can in a back slum, and in which they will learn that there is more enjoyment in life than the mere going to and returning from work, and looking forward to Saturday night to draw their wages.”

That is exactly what he built. Lovely homes, in the great Victorian style. The workers had hot water in the house and their own privy. They could stay in the house as long as they were working at the factory. Also, there were allotments if they wanted to grow their own veggies.
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Lever also built a school, an inn, a hospital, shops, the church. The Port Sunlight Museum is in the old Girls Club.
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The Museum is not big, but it’s lovely and the movie about the workers life is very interesting. They had so many things to do beside work. There were book clubs, dances, fancy costumes parties. The workers were happy, clean, healthy. Lever was encouraging them to put their earnings in bank deposits, to have savings.

The rules were strict, but all of them were made with careful consideration, to protect the life of the workers and the society.
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A diorama of the village. There are so many green spaces and almost all the houses have gardens. It’s lovely.
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Lady Lever, W. Lever and their only son.
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The Church Lever built for the community. He believed in God, but he wasn’t associated with any religion. He wanted a place where all his workers could feel at ease, regardless of their convictions.
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I am not sure what I like more about Port Sunlight. The village looks great, the community feel is still there after all these years and it’s so nice just to take a stroll. The old inn is a nice pub and the Garden Centre is huge. The tea rooms at the Port Sunlight Museum is great, the chocolate cake is yummy.

Lever’s story is fascinating, born a middle class family and achieving so much, even getting the title of Baronet. I love his vision regarding branding and marketing. What he did for the workers from that period is impressive. He also was part of the Parliament and he urged the House of Commons to adopt a national old age pension and he succeeded. Lever was impressive as a business man, making an wide infrastructure for raw materials and distribution.

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Attingham park

Last weekend we’ve been to Attingham Park, same day as we’ve visited the Alpaca farm. ap_01

As the lady from the ticket office told us is the feeding time for the deers, we’ve started with the walled garden, the woodland walk and the deer park walk.

The walled garden wasn’t that impressive, but it was as expected, considering it’s only March. The orchard looks nice and I’m sure it’s a treat to have a picnic in the summer.
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In the greenhouse we saw delicious produces. As we left late, there weren’t any salads at the shop, but in the morning there are. Next time we’ll shop before the visit.
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The woodland walk is great during this time of the year too, as there are so many snowdrops.
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This is the bird watching shed. Inside there are some information about the birds that can be seen there.
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Finally we arrived at the end of the deer park walk and we’ve seen the deers. The fallow deers looked lovely and they weren’t afraid of people.
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Next stop: the house. It was built in the late 18th century, so it has the characteristic of a house from that period. We arrived late for the guided tour, so we had to ask the staff for details.
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The ceiling rose was amazing. The flower looked very realistic, with a lot of details.
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Here there are 3 very important pictures. The 1st Lord Berwick is the one that started the building of the house and the 2nd Lord Berwick, the one who employed John Nash to expend the house. Thomas became Lord when he was only 18 and he went into bankruptcy due to his disregard about the expenses.

John Nash was a renowned architect, as he was involved in transforming Buckingham House into Buckingham Palace, another very controversial subject.
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This rooms are from the first building, the ladies rooms.
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Here we were in the gentleman’s rooms.
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The dinning room has lovely details everywhere. The curtains are closed as the sun will damage the rug. The room looks as it would have looked during the heyday of the house.
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The new part of the house is very impressive. Thomas Berwick built a Picture Gallery, that is under renovation, as there were issues with the roof. The new roof was funded by the estate from the entry fees, the sale of the vegetables from the greenhouse and the income from the coffee shop.
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The kitchen looks great. There are a lot of moulds for desserts on those shelves. I’ve asked about them, they are from that period, even if they are not from Attingham, as the original moulds were sold when the estate went into bankruptcy.

The irony is that the family motto was: “Let wealth be his who knows its use”.

Anyway, the 8th and last Lord Berwick succeeded in saving the estate. He and his wife were keen in preserving their legacy after their death, as they had no children, so they donated the estate to National Trust.

It’s such a beautiful story. I’ve admired their involvement, working long hours, side by side with maids to restore and preserve 100 years old curtains and tapestry. I also love the fact that there is NT and they are doing everything in their power to keep the estate as it should.
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The new roof will be finished next year.
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Alpaca farm

On 8th march, as we do celebrate Women’s day, we went for a day trip in Shropshire. It was a lovely day, sunny and warm, so our first stop was Mulberry Alpacas farm. After that we’ve went to Attingham Park (I’ll make another article about the park) and Shrewsbury.

The farm is at 1 hour and 10 minutes from us, but it worth the trip. I have only a few pictures, as hubby was busy walking the alpacas. They are such lovely animals, funny looking, but confident and extremely cute.af_01

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The owner of the farm was so helpful and he obviously loves talking about them. He answered our questions and told us a lot of things about them. They are very interesting animals and I’m sure they would be great as pets.

On the farm there is a small shop. One thing that I loved was that they know which alpaca produced the fleece to make the items. The only downside is that for me the British weather is too hot to wear thick knitwear.

They don’t dye the yarn and this is another thing that I loved about the products. It can’t get more natural than that. The hat I’ve bought was made from the fleece of 4 alpacas and the owner sent me by email the pictures of 3 of them!!
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At Attingham I’ve had my hat on the entire day. Too hot, but I just love the alpacas.
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It was the first time we’ve been to Shrewsbury, a medieval town. Lovely architecture, but a little too crowded for my taste. Nevertheless, perfect for a day trip. As we arrived late, we hadn’t have enough time to visit something, we’ve strolled in the center and had a pizza and that was it.

As all the important landmarks are in the centre, we’ve took some pictures. This is the Old Market Hall.
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Behind the Old Market Hall is Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery at the Music Hall.
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Shrewsbury is the birthplace of Darwin and this is Darwin’s Gate.
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Rowley’s House, another museum situated in the city center.
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Quantum Leap is a sculpture near the river Severn. It was made to celebrate 200 years since Darwin’s birthday.
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Sabrina is one of the two boats that are making trips on Severn.
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Chirk Castle

Chirk Castle is a castle with 700+ years of history. We’ve wanted to visit it last weekend, but we were too busy then. Today we’ve visit it and taken the guided tour.

The front gate looks amazing, so imposing and nicely crafted. The gate is not in the original place.cc_01

The castle, as it can be seen from the park. The park was the last one we’ve seen and was darker. It was lovely and the rain stopped for most of the time we’ve been outside.
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Fields of snowdrops looked amazing and they were so many.
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We’ve seen a lot of pheasants, in the park and on the estate.
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The 250 years old tree felt due to snow, 60 cm, in march 2013.
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On the road from the car park to the castle. It was pretty steep.
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The guided tour was very interesting. We’ve learned so many aspects of things we’d have passed by without knowing the story behind them. It was built by King Edward I and it is the last surviving welsh castle from this reign. The building started in 1295 and it was finished in 1310. It had a very important strategic position in Wales.

We’ve found out that the castle belonged to King Henry VIII. He built a wing for his illegitimate son. The castle was purchased in 16th century for about £5,000 by Sir T. Myddelton from Queen Elisabeth I. Neither King Henry VIII or Queen Elisabeth I stayed in this castle.
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The postbox marks the old border between Wales and England.
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The Hall was refurbished in Victorian times and this is their vision of how a medieval castle should have have look.
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This rug was a lent from the Queen mother to one of her ladies-in-waiting.
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Here we are in one of the towers. Even on a cloudy day, the views from the tower are lovely.
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My idea of heaven. The books were 500 years old. Only a few titles where yet legible. It’s exactly what I knew they had in their libraries back then: history books, Botanic garden and the Agricultural magazine.
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The tea rooms are in one of the towers. I had cream tea… actually, not really cream tea, as I had coffee. But the other components where genuine: scone, jam, butter and cream. I usually love scones, especially with cream and jam and these were so yummy. Homemade scones are ten times better than shop bought ones.
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I would have loved to dress up as a princess, but there weren’t any outfits for us, ladies. Hubby was lucky and he had the opportunity to dresse up as a knight.

The chain-mail shirt was very heavy and made from real metal chain links.
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The mail coif was also made from real metal chain links.
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Hubby had some help to put on the Great helm.
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With a heavy metal sword and a heavier than expected shield he started posing.
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It was so much fun. People around us were so excited and waiting to have the chance to try the armor on, kids and adults alike.

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Chester

Yesterday we went to Chester. We had a few spare hours and we walked in the city center, a delight as always.

We’ve tried to have a meal outside, but hubby thought it was too cold and we moved inside. The food was great, nachos and burrito, it’s something I’ll make at home when I have more time.c_01

These are the remaining walls of the tower from a Roman fortress.
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The Roman amphitheater, discovered in the 30s, by chance.

There were plans to build a road across the monument. But after a national campaign to save the amphitheater, the Ministry of Transport vetoed the scheme. As usual, I’m happy to see people so involved in their culture and history and, at the same, doing what they can to preserve it.
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Pride and Prejudice

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.” At Lyme Park this winter was celebrated the 200th anniversary of Pride and Prejudice. We’ve been yesterday, in the last weekend of the celebrations.

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The original costumes from the BBC series of Pride and Prejudice, 1995.
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This way I would have looked 200 years ago. Yesterday, unlike today when it’s sunny, it was cold (5 degrees) and windy and raining. But that didn’t stop us to take advantage of the costumes and take the tour of the garden like that.
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The statue loaned by an American television company for this year’s event.
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Hubby was dressed for the occasion too. We both enjoyed it very much. I loved my cap and bonnet, sadly the straw bonnets were for little girls, too small for me. Anyway, the fabric bonnet was lovely too. Hubby was pleased with his top hat and shirt&vest.
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A diary of my travels, events, my thougths, blogging, craft projects and my home.