Ladies that Lunch!

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Tuesday 31st October – 37th meeting of 2017

Today a completely different day for us nine ladies. We decided to have lunch in Orpington and sample the delights of a new restaurant that has recently opened.

We met at 11.30 and had drink in one of the many coffee shops in the High Street. Then went to BR6  for 12.30 where we had booked a table.

BR6 Restaurant and Bakehouse opened in February 2015 and is the centrepiece of London South East Colleges’ Hospitality, Food and Enterprise Career College. Part of a national network, Career Colleges work closely with employer partners to provide 14-19 year olds with the skills they need to work in specific industries.

Greeted by a smiling friendly student at the door we were directed to our table. It had a lovely atmosphere and was brightly decorated. There was a very good lunch buffet menu or a small a la cart. We all had the buffet menu as there was a good choice and you could eat as much as you liked! With three courses and a price of £8.95 it was really good value. We were served by the students who were very smartly dressed in varying uniforms.

 

 

 

 

 

There is also The Bakehouse attached to the restaurant which is coffee shop selling all the beautiful pastries, cakes and bread made by the students at the college. The food was delicious and it is such a good idea to run such courses giving young people the chance to try out such skills. There were large screens displaying the kitchen area which look absolutely immaculate. The restaurant  is open in the evening and offers a very wide menu.

This was a delightful lunch. The students very professional and the food really good. After lunch we all went our separate ways home and enjoyed some shopping on the way!

 

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Sutton House

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Thursday 26th October – 36 meeting of 2017

A change of day to Thursday this week for us as we planned to visit the National Trust property of Sutton House which is not open on Tuesdays. This property is in Hackney so for us a journey on main line to London Bridge, Jubilee line to Stratford and then Overground line to Hackney Central which was quite easy although there was a bit of confusion at Stratford when two of our ladies managed to get separated and went off in the direction of Westfield shopping centre but all was rectified with a phone call or two!!

The house opened at 12 o’clock and as we arrived early we made the short walk to Homerton Hospital for a coffee. The hospital was very busy but we managed to get a table and enjoy a drink and snack. Walking back to the house the rain started and thankfully we all had hoods or umbrellas.

We were greeted at the entrance by the Manager who gave us a quick introduction to the history of the house and a map to explore at our own pace. This being half term the House was holding a Halloween event for children and the house had lots of Halloween decorations, pumpkins, skeletons, cobwebs, witches and the like.

Sutton House is 500 years old and the oldest of National Trust properties and also the oldest house in East London. To start it was built as a Tudor Palace with added buildings through the ages Georgian, Victorian and in the 1980’s it was used as a squat before the local community rallied together to save Sutton House. The National Trust now cares for it and it is used as a thriving community venue.

The first room showed models of how the house has been developed and also models of the area of Hackney. The panelling on the walls could be opened to show the original brick walls of the fire place. The house is on two levels. The Linenfold Parlour was part of the original house built by Sir Ralph Sadleir in 1535. Very dark with wood panelling throughout. There were treasure chests with items of the era to look at. I must say that this house was very child friendly and exciting. There was the Cellar, Gallery, Little Chamber, Great Chamber, Victorian Study, Squatter’sRoom Georgian Parlour, Chapel and the Tudor Kitchen to explore. Lots of twists and turns and staircases which made it hard to work out the lay-out.

 

 

 

 

In the Little Chamber was a recording of dogs barking and the volunteer told us of the story of the death of Sir Ralph and his dogs that will not leave and haunt the house. He also told us that Sutton House is the most haunted house in London! All adding to the Halloween atmosphere! The squatter’s room from 1980’s was really fascinating. Bright paintings on the walls, a bed made from pallets, odds and ends of clothing and possessions. The volunteer told us that some of the paintings are original with some restored but that the people who were squatters in the 80’s came back to the house and recreated the room with their own personal items and belongs.

 

 

 

 

 

Outside the Courtyard was very nice with some table and chairs and the Breaker’s Yard was a fabulous area created to playfully celebrate the industrial history of the site when it was a leather making area and a car breaker’s Yard.

We had a great time at Sutton House which was a very interesting and enjoyable National Trust property. With the rain still falling we made our way back to Hackney Central station and our journeys home.

 

Return to Strawberry Hill

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Tuesday 17th October – 35 meeting of 2017

We made a return visit to Strawberry Hill, Twickenham today after first visiting in October 2011. An easy journey from Waterloo to Strawberry Hill of about 30 minutes on main line trains. Waterloo is a very busy station but with all the recent work completed it is spacious and bright.

From Strawberry Hill station we walked to the house. A short walk through some lovely roads of well kept houses and we stopped for a coffee in a very nice little cafe. A bright morning which made the walk very pleasant.

 

Strawberry Hill is a house built by Horace Walpole, a politician, writer, collector and son of Britain’s first Prime Minister Sir Robert Walpole and was built between 1748 and 1790 as his summer villa. It is one of the earliest and finest examples of the Gothic revival and established the style now known as Strawberry Hill Gothic. Now owned by Strawberry Hill Trust a charity run by Friends of Strawberry it recently was awarded Lottery funding of £9 million and many of the rooms have been fully restored to the original state. When it was built there was a view of the river Thames but today it is obscured by buildings and trees.

 

 

 

 

 

On ground floor was  Museum, Yellow Bedchamber/Restoration Room, Great Parlour, Hall and cafe, shop etc. Upstairs were the lovely rooms used for entertaining, the Gallery, Holbein Chamber, Library, Blue Bedchamber, Breakfast Room, Round Drawing Room and Great North Bedchamber. The design was amazing. Everywhere showed opulence, intricate decoration and detail throughout. The amount of stained glass windows was amazing. Every room had some. The Gallery was spectacular with an amazing ceiling decorated completely in gold. There was a Holbein Chamber where many works of Holbein were on show. In each room volunteers were on duty who were very interesting and full of knowledge of the house. There were three rooms that are now open which were being renovated on our early trip. On the second floor was Mr Walpole’s bedchamber and The Plaid Bedchamber. Each of the rooms were very different in design and many of the designs of the furnishings and wallcoverings could be used today in our homes. One of the volunteers told us that in all of the restoration materials and techniques used were exactly the same as when the house was built and that leaded paint was especially manufactured when the Blue Bedchamber was restored and cost an amazing £300 per litre! Also the bedspread was hand quilted by a team of seamstresses that meet and work in the house on a regular basis to create the wonderful embroidery pieces displayed throughout the house. After the tour of the house we walked around the garden and viewed the shell seat.

 

 

 

 

 

The House is part of a large complex which houses a chapel and St Mary’s University.

After our visit with the weather still good we made our way back to Strawberry Hill station and our trains home after a very pleasant day looking at some amazing architecture and enjoying a part of London that is very pleasant.

 

 

 

 

A Day at the Seaside!

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Tuesday 10th October – 34 meeting of 2017

A great day today for all nine of us ladies. A day at Brighton and a flight on the British Airways i360, the world’s tallest moving observation tower, 138 metres high. Meeting at London Bridge we purchased our tickets for Brighton and boarded the 10.22 and arrived in Brighton at 11.39. A very nice clean bright train which was busy but did empty out quite a lot at Gatwick Airport.

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was a lovely bright day although a bit windy. We walked down towards the sea and stopped on the way for a coffee after which we carried on to the seafront and the i360. Booked for one o’clock we were told to arrive half an hour before which we did but then after our bags were checked and photographs taken we waited to board. Although as I say it was a bright sunny day it was a very strong cold wind so we were pleased when we boarded.

The structure of i360 is amazing. Designed and build by Marks Barfield creators of London Eye it was opened August 2016. A column ascending up into the sky and a viewing pod wrapped around it. It was warm inside and with seats in the middle of the pod we settled and waited to go. As the pod went up we walked all around admiring the view. One side looked out over sea and the wind farm could be clearly seen. The other half looked out over Brighton and beyond. I loved it as we ascended and people and cars became smaller. From the top you could see the complete lay out of Brighton with so many long straight streets and roads. Lots of the roofs had art work on them and I thought it made it look so nice. Lots of colour with many different designs. Looking out over the roof tops reminded me of the Mary Poppins film and the chimney sweeps song and dance routine ‘Chim Chim Cher-ee’! You can purchase refreshments on board and given a map of Brighton you could pick out all the landmarks. We did notice a crack in one of the curved windows but we were assured by one of the staff that it was quite safe and that the glass will replaced but the curved panel has to come from Italy! The whole flight was half an hour long and a great experience.

Once out of the pod we had a wander around the shop and sat and watched a very interesting video showing how the i360 was constructed. There was also a glass panel in the floor which looked down onto the working structure. After this we then crossed the road and went into a very nice restaurant/cafe for a fish and chip lunch. You really can’t go to the seaside and not have fish and chips!!

We had a leisurely stroll back to the station. Brighton is a really busy town and with a university there are lots of young people. We caught the train back to London Bridge and then our local trains home after a lovely day. It was great to venture out of London for a day by the sea with thanks to the lady that suggested it and I feel we will do more of this type of outing in the future.

 

 

Morden Hall Park

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Tuesday 3rd October – 33rd meeting of 2017

Today we went to enjoy the colours of Autumn at Morden Hall Park after a couple of our ladies saw it on Breakfast television. This belongs to The National Trust and was very easy to access by going to London Bridge and then taking the Northern Line to Morden and a short walk to the park.

The weather was perfect for this activity sunny bright and not windy or cold. Once we arrived we made our way to the Courtyard only to find the cafe was closed but all was saved when a gardener directed was to the Potting Shed Cafe cafe next to the Garden Centre. This was a very nice cafe and after a coffee and eats we set about a walk around the park.

The area cover 50 acres and was left to The National Trust by a kind-hearted philanthropist. The Hall itself is a fine building but is a residential dwelling not open to the public.

In the stable yard we went into the Snuff House and heard how snuff was made and how rich it made the owners that they managed to build the Hall. The River Wandle which was a very fast flowing river meant that the water-mill could be built to grind all the ingredients needed to make snuff. In the 1800’s along all of the banks of Wandle River there was industry making it one of the busy areas of London.

From here we walked through the beautiful Rose Garden and then wound our way around the whole of the park. They were lots of people enjoying the peace and tranquillity. Quite amazing to think that we were in London really because it had a lovely country feel to whole area. Lots of children with Mums and Dads, joggers, serious runners, many parties of school children as it has a very good educational centre, dog walkers and general public enjoying the colours and wildlife.

 

The walks along the river were very nice and some fish were spotted with two or three lovely bridges to cross. The wetland boardwalk was very good. We did spot some moorhens and a crayfly or two.

A very interesting and enjoyable morning made special by the wonderful colours of the leaves turning on the trees. We made our way back to Morden station knowing that Autumn is well and truly here and Winter on it’s way!