Ahoy there! Pirates of all ages joined me on Saturday at the Fitzrovia Fete, organised by the magical Pollocks Toy Museum, to demonstrate that pirates have remarkably inventive drawing skills.
While pirates swashbuckled, crocodiles snapped, musicians played, Punch and Judy fought, bees buzzed (there was a bee display), a skeleton jumped in and out of a coffin, a magician performed wonders, it didn’t rain – what more can you want from a street festival!
The best bit of this walk last month was calling in at the aptly named Cliff Top Cafe in Capel le Ferne, which has home made cakes, very friendly staff and (usually) an amazing view. It’s very popular with (middle-aged) bikers at weekends. The last time I was here I had a message on my mobile phone saying ‘Welcome to France’, but sadly not this time …
Then there was a sea mist and much rain so we didn’t actually make it to Dover, but being above the sea was a delight.
The cliff paths were super slippy with wet chalk so we walked a bit on the Old Dover Road, eventually found the huge concrete sound mirror and caught a bus back to Folkestone in pouring rain. English summer and all that …
Part Two of a series about City Guides – I cajoled the guides to tell their own stories. It was a great way to catch up with some of the lovely people I’d trained with in 2006. Part One also appeared in CityGuide Magazine, and is here.
I met up with Judy Stephenson one morning in St Mary Abchurch, headquarters of the Friends of the City Churches. Judy is an active member, and editor of their magazine Skyline. As well as having the pleasure of exchanging news with Judy, I was on a mission. I’m the founder and curator of a very small Museum of Dust, one of my ongoing projects, and wanted to add a minute sample of dust from the church’s Grinling Gibbons reredos to add to my rather eclectic collection.
Sadly the screen was too high, Health & Safety rules precluded me from standing on a chair or ladder to reach it, and in any case the church was far too well dusted. I spotted a splendid unicorn in the church, made by seventeenth century wood carver William Emmett (according to the church’s leaflet), but sadly this too was dust free. Unicorn dust is appropriately very rare.
As I was chatting to Judy in the sunny churchyard, three visitors arrived to discuss this year’s Grinling Gibbons 300: Carving a Place in History festival, each of them wearing a small but exquisite pearwood carving in their lapel, created by master carver Hugh Wedderburn, one of the visitors. He has kindly agreed to my visiting his studio, where I hope to collect a sample of dust from a contemporary wood carver’s workshop. As usual, the City is full of surprises, and meanwhile, my unicorn dust quest continues. …
Fabulous art galleries, subtropical gardens (Morrab and Trewyn), coast walks, ancient churches, boat trips, stunning views and a heated swimming pool – Cornwall as ever was a delight.
Forgot to mention Lord Nelson in a cupboard (the outcome of the Battle of Trafalgar was announced in the hotel ballroom above), and I revisited the outside of the St Ives house which once belonged to one of my favourite painters Alfred Wallis, although I suspect he didn’t have Venetian blinds at the time.
This week I called in again at Pollocks Toy Museum, to chat with D, ex-curator who comes in to the museum once a week to catalogue its contents – a mammoth task, as the museum has a myriad of nooks and crannies filled with surprising treasures.
Under the watchful and curious eyes of a crowd of dolls, D selected keys from an enormous bunch, and opened up the case containing a wooden Noah’s Ark, and one of the dolls house cases, but there wasn’t even enough dust to fill a tiny bottle.
No dust in a seaside bucket made of a recycled sardine tin either. In the end I managed to collect some dust by fossicking around a chimney in the older (c 1760s) part of the museum, in a room whose floor, delightfully creaky, has a four inch slope.