Monday, 29 July 2013


That was quick! Ha! Home again and sooooo pleased to be here. The trip has faded instantly to lovely memories now. The blog will help me to remember lots of days that were so special, we certainly had the most wonderful trip, and we thank everyone who made it such a fantastic experience.

We arrived yesterday morning but were unlucky to miss Christopher and 69 of his pals off on their trip to Canberra and the snow by just a few minutes. Two longed for faces were waiting for us, Savina and Leo, sooo good to see them.

Glenn was home with his chipmunk face from having his 4 wisdom teeth removed and we are dying to see the other three faces of Edward, Rebecca and Michael today. 

Our dear neighbours Margot and Dick greeted us along with our new family members..... Four chickens who are busily turning over the gardens. No eggs yet but they had better start producing to justify their palatial home. 

Thank you to the few friends who came on the trip via the blog. I feel I won't have anything to tell you when we meet. There's no more reading from now on you hear. Life gets pretty dull from now on with only work, work, and more work ahead of me. I will be getting back to the purpose of writing the blog as a diary of my work and thoughts and inspirations about ceramics. Some final shots of the trip before you leave.

London from our hotel room on the 26th floor, see the Shard, the London Eye, with the Natural History Museum in the foreground and the V&A middle distance. You can even see Harrods.
This ceramic artist was at work in the V&A on a residency program.

This is her work below. 
My feet leaving the V&A for the last time.

Our companions in London, Michael and Jane with Geoff outside the Phene pub.
My dear brother and me.

I promptly went to sleep for most of the afternoon then back to bed at night for the whole night without moving which surprised me. So I am up and ready to go today. 

That's all now, I'm going back to life as usual so it will be boring old everyday stuff so you can de-blog.

Flights to book today for China in September, visa, etc and preparing for an exhibition in September. So there is no hanging about. I did wake up several times on the trip asking myself about China and what the hell induced me to apply. When I saw my name on the program of speakers I completely freaked out and didn't sleep for a few nights. I feel totally out of my depth here especially looking at the names of the other speakers, will they find out I'm a fake and laugh me off the stage? What a nerve I have, yikes!!!!

Saturday, 27 July 2013

No-mans' Land

Sitting at Heathrow totally exhausted, what's new! Arrived in London yesterday and had dinner with Jane and Michael after a couple of drinks in the old pub we used to frequent when Geoff worked here, then on to dinner. This pub was filled with 12 year old children I'm sure. What is the drinking age here for Pete's sake, I was old enough to be their great-granny. 

Oh yes I did have the quick trip to the V&A as we had some spare time. 

Today we shuffled our belongings between bags and then met up with M&J and went to the Saatchi Gallery at Sloane Square. I wasn't expecting much as I thought it would be all conceptual stuff with little skill as I have found with a lot of artists he collects or gimmicky stuff, but I found some things I really liked. The exhibition was titled "Paper" so you can guess what the basis was. Miller Lagos' work was really interesting, called "fragments of time". Newspapers stacked tightly and carved into tree logs which split into sheets of paper at times. This work said a lot about the contemporary world.

Osiers Miászho's collages of images of Roman Portraits with superimposed portraits of German politician's eyes were disturbing and I found it hard to look away. Some large drawings by Dawn Clements I also enjoyed, and I mean large. A view of an interior that went on and on. But the work that was most fascinating was in the basement and was a pool of sump oil by Richard Wilson. Called 20:50, it is of epic proportion filling the entire basement and looks like a polished floor and mirrors the space above, my mind had trouble accepting it as it was so dense and still.

We finished with lunch at the Phene Pub before starting off for Heathrow. We were going to catch a cab to Paddington Station and then the Heathrow express but the porter at the hotel advised us that the cab directly to Heathrow would be cheaper. So £50 later we were happily deposited at Heathrow.

Both of us are too tired to blink now. We woke up this morning like wet rags, probably knowing we were leaving so finally could let go. It's been the most wonderful trip from start to finish. I hope I have enough energy and desire to post photos when I get home.

See you all soon.

Friday, 26 July 2013

Burst Bubbles in Bath

Last day of our holiday today in Bath. Tomorrow we start the trek homeward. It has been a great trip but I think we have exhausted ourselves enough now and will be pleased to be home and stop for a while. Although having my bed made for me every day and not cooking was very pleasant. So this is what it feels like to be a man!!!! Just kidding. Sort of

We headed away from Bath today and walked towards the art gallery at the other end of our road.
The large building seen at the end of the road in this photo. We love this road our B&B is in, so gracious, the footpath is enormously wide to accommodate the dresses of the ladies promenading along in the mid 1700's, that's why the doors are wide as well.
Always ready for a sidetrack and discovered some beautiful gardens behind the buildings on the left in the photo above. Huge trees in full leaf and very quiet and peaceful. There was also a charming enclosed garden in memory of George V, with a pond. It was very secluded away from the hustle of Bath and traffic.
Returning towards the gallery we passed a derelict churchyard with graves chockablock, and just had to go in.
What a surprise to find this grave amongst many.
This is the marker.
How about that?!!! Not quite correct but that's okay. There was also a crumbling grave that was the site of Christopher Wren's granddaughter's grave. To think in Australia we would have bells and whistles attached to anything that even looked old let alone anything of historical significance. 
On towards the gallery yet again, walking through another lovely parkland garden behind the gallery called Sydney Gardens and entering the gallery through the back door.
This is the backdoor. What! A restaurant! Time for refreshments. Too hot for the Aussies in the sun but not the Poms, I don't know how they do it, it was so hot.
The Holburne Gallery had an exhibition of Rembrandt and his contemporaries from the Royal collection but we weren't able to cope with that at this stage, overload. So we looked at the gallery's collection, they had some beautiful Gainsborough paintings along with embroideries and a contemporary exhibition which I LOVED by a metalsmith.
The work was stunning.

Now I'm going to take up metal work, phooey to clay.

View from the gallery's second floor down Pulteney Road towards Bath. Our B&B is way down on the left.
It was a hot day again so we decided to take a boat trip up the Avon (Bristol) River. There are 7 or 8 Avon Rivers in Britain, we are told different numbers each time the river is mentioned. The indigenous name for river or running water and when the Roman invaders asked them the name of the river they replied Avon. 
It was a busy little thoroughfare. The boat took us up to where there was once a mill and subsequently a weir was built to make sure there was enough water to run the mill in dry times.
On the way back, Bathampton was pointed out to us, it is where Admiral Arthur Phillip is supposedly buried. In 1897 when it was realised he was there and there was a memorial placed in the church and each year on his birthday there is an Australian commemoration.
Almost back to Bath. Ahead is the bridge lined with shops. Geoff and I have now completed our life's dream of walking over every bridge that has buildings built on it in the entire world. It's been a mighty effort with no expense spared. We've travelled far and wide but can finally say we've walked everyone of them. I've listed them at the end of this blog.
After the boat trip we sauntered up town for lunch and it rained, we've almost forgotten what it looks like. We have been so lucky on the entire trip as far as the weather goes. We ducked into a fabulous bookshop, 3 stories high and stretching for miles on each floor, oh heaven, just like the old days. By the time we emerged the rain had gone.
Thanks for emails, it is almost impossible to answer them as I can't do so directly without all sorts of effort, so sorry but I do love them. I don't know when I'll be able to post a blog again as in London; hotels, restaurants, trains and busses have never heard of free wifi like other countries have.
List of bridges with shop buildings on them; Ponte Vecchio, Rialto, Pulteney. Wow we've crossed them all!

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Bath Time

Back out there again in a few minutes to get a head start on the thousands of other tourists. I am guessing most of them are bussed in each day as by evening someone has pulled the plug in Bath and it is quiet and calm again. We sat in a square next to the Abbey after dinner last night and listened to a musician playing Irish pipe instruments which was so calming after a frantic day in the crowds.
We walked along the river after dinner and watched a very serious cricket match on the green.
Note the woman umpire.
The plan for the day is a bus trip around the town, getting on an off when the mood strikes us. 
Captain Governor Phillip retired to Bath after he returned from Australia, it struck me as odd to see the small sandstone house wedged between similar houses belonging to a man of such importance to Australians and who features so prominently in our history books and this small house with little attention is all that remains.
This is his modest little retirement home in a very ordinary street in Bath. I don't know his circumstances when he returned from Australia, perhaps being Governor didn't earn much in those days.
The plaques on the wall. I wouldn't have noticed the house if is wasn't for our guide, Bob, yesterday who pointed it out to the four Aussies on the tour.
Of course all that touring took it out of us so we had to revive ourselves with tea and the obligatory Bath Bun in the Pump House, an 18th C building next to the Roman Bathhouse where people of that time came to take the waters of Bath for their health. I think Jane Austen was also a visitor but all the facts are a bit jumbled after a day listening to and reading historical information.
This is the Pump Room where old codgers like us go for tea. It is a beautiful room and there are always musicians playing, you may be able to see the trio in the distance.
This fountain overlooks the now exposed Roman baths, those who visited the Pump Room could sample the rich mineral water from the thermal springs. The water comes out of the ground at 46.5°C so it was quite warm.
The next stop was yet another museum! This time No 1 The Royal Crescent. It is the first house on the famous curve of sandstone houses that sit above Bath. I took a photo yesterday but it is on another photo disc. You can see a snippet of it in the next photo plus the museum entrance.
This house now represents a gentleman's residence, home to Henry Sandford between 1776 and 1796. It was beautifully restored but lacked a human presence as it had none of Sandfords belongings. No photos allowed.  Back to the centre of town to the Abbey for a recital by choristers from Rochester Cathedral, a group of young and very young people. Glorious sounds rose up into the height of the cathedral they had beautiful voices (no photos allowed of the choir).
We jumped back on the bus again, this time for a trip out of the town into the hills surrounding it and on through Widcombe. Like walking through scenes from Pride and Prejudice or Persuasion which I am reading in a hurry at night for glimpses of Bath in Jane Austen's time. I has been a beautiful day, warm and sunny with bright, white clouds in a china blue sky. So sitting on an open air bus was very pleasant.
The crowds were thinning so took the opportunity to go to the Roman Baths built in the first century AD. There was a very detailed audio tour through the museum part before reaching the baths. Our overloaded brains didn't take in a lot I'm afraid. 
The Romans were incredible in their capabilities.  These baths are preserved due to being covered with soil from flooding of the Avon River for hundreds of years after the Romans left. They were only rediscovered in the 1800's when excavating in order to build new baths at the site of the spring.
You can see the level of the Roman Baths where the shadowy woman is sitting in the foreground and behind and on a higher level is the Abbey built in the 1500's on the site of the ruins of a Norman Church which had been built over a much earlier Roman Temple. No wonder our Governor Phillip doesn't get more than a small plaque with all that history within a stones throw.
Here I am on the Roman level. I tasted the water (not from here but from a tap nearer the spring) and it was warm and didn't taste bad at all. I'm cured! I'm cured!
This is the overflow from the sacred spring, or the reservoir that the Romans' built around the spring. Water flows into the baths and this excess is diverted as the spring delivers 1.25 million litres of water a day. The Roman baths flourished here between the first and fifth centuries. I could go on and on but I won't bore you. It was very interesting and there were lots of Roman artefacts and diggings.
An artefact discovered during excavations.
Below is our "palace", where the red geraniums are we have breakfast and our room is below stairs under the flowers. Not bad eh? 
The whole street was a development built by an Earl Pulteney who owned lots of land across the river from Bath. He had great plans for many more streets in this style, he built the bridge to the west from Bath but recession and the Napoleonic Wars put an end to his dreams. It is a beautiful street with these building lining each side of the wide road but the side streets are not developed.
Now I will have to stagger up the many stairs to reach the wifi area in the lounge. Geoff is in his jammies already, it has been a rugged day out there on the cobbles. Last full day in Bath tomorrow then back to London for a day and then home.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

London. Hot and Crowded. Hoping for a Cold Bath.

Ceramic from the V&A. Dish with Cobalt blue decoration, Arita, Japan, 1875.
This entry was started when we arrived in London last week but we have had no Internet so now we are in Bath. I have made a couple of entries in hope that I would get a connection somewhere along the line but it didn't happen. If an out of date story is boring just jump to the end.

Arrived in London yesterday to hot and humid weather. Met up with Michael and Jane for lunch and a wander in the Serpentine. The installation made of metal bars representing a cloud didn't do it for me neither did the the show in the galleries. Perhaps I was not in the mood. We'd been up since 3.30 London time. We were pretty tired.

Michael and Geoff

We had a rest, I think we are beginning to crumble, all museumed out. We met up again and went to a small French restaurant in Kensington, a pleasant night, concluded with a gelati.

No Internet in the hotel unless we pay a fortune. funny how those tiny Baltic countries had maps to show you where free Wifi was and all you had to do was log in for free in your hotel.

Well time has moved on and we are still without Internet. We are on the train to Bath for a few days (no wifi yet but the bus from Tallinn had free wifi). We have found London so expensive and we have had to pay for every little service like leaving our bags in the hotel luggage room £14. £9 (approx $13) for the two of us to go a few stations on the underground.

We had a quiet morning (whenever it was in London) but eventually the thought of the city outside got the better of us and we thought we would duck into the Natural History Museum but the lines stretched for miles and they were all standing in the sun. So we went along to the V&A and before we knew it we were up on the sixth floor looking at the new ceramics gallery. I was pleasantly surprised with what they had done but it was hard to follow nevertheless I enjoyed it immensely.  It is so hot in London, with temperatures in the high 20's and we feel hot and grimy.
New display cabinets on the 6th floor ceramics dept
Early Gwynn H-P punch bowl and cups right, Louis Hanssen bowl on left. Nice to know they are next to one another.
Now there are explanations of techniques, here is a display of various stages of transfer printing. I thought these were excellent for explaining things to non potters (and potters too).
This is a terrible image of Lucy Rie's studio. It shows her wheel to the right.
This image is even worse. I felt the display was ill suited here out of context. It lacked any emotional connection to Lucy Rie for me.

Michael and Jane picked us up and Michael kindly booked us all on a visit to the new, tall building called the Shard, it is 72 stories high that we can go up to but the view is amazing, 360° view and trains sliding along the tracks below looked like tiny caterpillars. The planes even seemed to be eyeballing us. There was a quiet little pub near where we left the car so we spent some time there in the shade of an umbrella waiting for some cooling down of the hot afternoon. Michael  drove around the city along the Embankment and popped in at the fossil shop as we sometimes do when here to view the incredible rocks and fossils.
We parked the car in a side street and looked up and up and up.
View of Tower Bridge from the 69th floor
Michael Jane and me with view.

Geoff and I went back and packed before meeting up for dinner in a nearby pub where endless news stories on the Poms winning the cricket, the Tour de France (but missed the golf) went round and round. It has been wonderful to spend time with Michael and Jane. They have been very kind planning our London stop and driving us around. i think we have worn them out a bit. 

Today were were awake early thanks to mysterious phone calls from Australia that never say anything when answered. We went to our favourite second hand bookshop near Gloucester Rd Tube and then I toddled off to the V&A, surprise, surprise.

I was very excited about meeting up with my potting pal Susan who kindly came all the way up to London for the day from East Sussex. Of course we met in the ceramics department at the V&A, she is a member so we were able to have a nice quiet chat and cup of tea in the members' room. We had a lot of catching up to do but did manage to view some of the ceramics on the 6th floor as well. It was a lovely few hours talking ceramics in real life rather than by email. I forgot to take a photograph, too busy talking!!

All too quickly I had to leave to catch the train to Bath. It was stinking hot!!!! I mean STINKING hot!!!! The hottest day since 2006, and about 33-34°C. The train was stifling, it may have had air conditioning but it wasn't working too well. I resorted to buying a loose summer shirt in Paddington Station and was very pleased I did as I would have died on the train in what I was wearing.

The big news of course was that the Duchess of Cambridge had gone into labour and people were gathering outside the hospital and the Palace. We had arrived in Bath, it was so much cooler and we walked from the station to our Georgian Townhouse B&B. We were quite pleased to find ourselves in the basement room which was like a refrigerator. Bath is glorious, lovely mellow, yellow, sandstone buildings. We dumped our bags and were off into the town. It was glowing in the evening light. We have missed the storms that have been about luckily but the humidity and heat has been high.

We wandered about the town feeling relieved to be out of the London crowds. Finding a place to get a cold drink in a reasonable time has eluded us. We waited for ages at one place to be served so decided not to eat there and surprisingly ended up eating in a Moroccan restaurant which proved to be a fortunate choice. We sat close to a very friendly couple from the Lake District and had a very enjoyable evening. We were near the Abbey and during the evening the bells started pealing. We soon realised why when I caught the words "baby boy" on a corner of a tv I could see. I must admit it was rather nice to be in England, I'm no monarchist but most of the Brits are so excited and it was catching to be sitting in a square with the bells pealing joyously. It's been an eventful time.
I took this photo from our table when the bells were ringing.

Today we joined a walking tour through the town. Bob, our guide was fantastic. We met outside the Roman Baths and he took us on a two hour walk all over the town. The walks are put on by the local council for free. It was quite a walk to all the "spots" and Bob gave us a great run down of the history. I don't know where they were last night but by the time we got back to the town centre it was packed with tourist crowds, horrible! We could hardly move and to buy food was crazy. So if you plan to have a holiday in England don't go in July.

We have come back to the house to have a rest, and hope the crowds disperse, then we will venture out into the pretty evening light.