Where did you visit on Heritage Open Days weekend?

It’s truly amazing where you can visit these days. What with the Heritage Open Days and Open House London, almost everywhere is open to visitors.

On Sunday we visited The Holloway Sanatorium in Virginia Water, more on this in next article. Meanwhile, over the past few years, we’ve visited,

Oh, and loads more. Each in their own way was fascinating.

If you missed a visit to a Heritage Open Days event, this coming weekend it’s Open House London. We put our name in the ballot to visit No 10 Downing Street. Sadly, our name did come out of the ballot as a winner. Maybe next year.

Locally, I can recommend Kempton Park Water Pumping Station, there’s tea and cake on offer as well as the ‘world’s largest working triple-expansion steam engine in action’. Enough. I’ll let you browse the Open House London website to make your choice.

Meeting a ‘Best in the World’ award winning cookbook author in Camberley

Mridula BaljekarWhile in Camberley last week I met a couple of media types in Park Street, and then enjoyably I spotted Mridula Baljekar walking towards us.

The media guys left and Mridula and I stood and chatted for a while, during which she told me that she’d won another World Cookbook Award. This time, her book The Complete Indian Regional Cookbook won the award for ‘Best Indian Cookbook in the World’ awarded by the 2014 Gourmand World Cookbook Awards in the category of World Cuisine – Indian Cuisine.

The Gourmand awards are considered to be the Oscars of the cookbook world, with the 2014 Awards being held in Beijing, which Mridula said was “a glittering ceremony with food and wine writers from around the world.  It was an awesome experience”.

Mridula’s book, Great Indian Feasts, won a ‘Best in the World’ award at the 2005 Gourmand World Cookbook Award in the Best Asian Cookbook category.

How pleasing that Camberley is home to an multiple award winning cookery writer.

West End’s traditional village country show entertains the crowds

It was the West End, Windlesham & District Agricultural and Horticultural Society’s annual show yesterday afternoon – the Ag & Hort for short.

The weather, so important for outdoor events, brightened up in the afternoon, such that the crowds of visitors spent more time enjoying the outside activities, than the huge variety of exhibits in Tringhams Hall and the Marquee.

We both contributed exhibits in different classes, me in photography, dear wife in crafts and cookery. Excitedly I entered Tringhams halls to check on the Cookery classes to find a First Prize certificate by my wife’s loaf of bread, and a second prize certificate next to her six bread rolls. Venturing into the marquee, thinking I too might be a prize winner, my hopes were dashed. No certificate of any kind, first, second, third, or even a highly commended by either of my entries. The photographic classes were popular this year, as were the Women’s Institute entries, sadly there were no guinea pigs, gerbils, or hamsters this year.

The poultry classes amused me. I was told that entries in the trios of waterfowl class should be made up of two female ducks and one drake. To sex the ducks, and this is what I’m told, the judge picks up the duck and holds it to his ear. There’s obviously a different sound between male and female, though I’m darned if I know what it is. Oh, and the judge failed one exhibit, because there were two males, and only one female. Such are the things that make a village country show.

Here’s my photo blog of the show,

A picture in Royal Holloway’s picture gallery reputed to cause exam failure

It’s Heritage Open Days this weekend. For anyone visiting the Picture Gallery at Royal Holloway in Egham, the BBC Magazine’s article on ‘The painting reputed to make students fail exams’ describes how Sir Edwin Landseer’s painting Man proposes – God disposes, affected students.

Must say, I didn’t warm to the subject when visiting the Picture Gallery recently.

Edwin Landseer painting

Motorcycles, cyclists, & team cars of Tour of Britain cycle race whizz by

If you watched the Tour of Britain cycle race in Camberley or elsewhere in our borough, were you surprised by the number of motorcycles, especially Police motorcycles, because I was.

I made it to my favoured spot, near the Kings Head pub and the canal bridge on Guildford Road in Frimley Green. I videoed the race as it passed by, from almost the first motorcycles to the last. My video is just over 9 minutes. Here’s a challenge. How many motorcycles pass my viewing spot? Because I haven’t counted them.

The answer is 61. Prior to the start of my video 9 motorcycles drove passed. Therefore, there are 52 in the video, unless I’ve miscounted.

Surrey Heath’s military remnants captured by expert photographers

Today is the first day of a new exhibition at Surrey Heath Museum, entitled Military Remnants captured by the Windlesham and Camberley Camera Club. Here’s how the Museum describe the exhibition,

“This area’s military heritage is well documented; this exhibition captures that heritage digitally thanks to the expertise of the local Camera Club members. Local images on display relate to the remaining physical evidence from the last two World Wars and earlier, including pill boxes, practice trenches, military camps, war memorials etc.”

I’m delighted to have been involved – in a small way – with the exhibition. I’m enormously impressed with the exhibition, which has resulted in many splendid photo montages, each telling a story of the history of our borough military heritage. I interviewed Mike Hillman of the Camera Club, who along with Alan Meeks have done so much to put the exhibition together. I also recorded Mayor Cllr Bob Paton’s lively address to the audience of the preview event.

Painting of the week No.7: Piazza dei Signori, Verona by James Holland

It’s been quite a while since a post in the Painting of the Week series. Having recently visited the Picture Gallery at Royal Holloway it’s an opportunity to add to the series. Painting of the Week No5, The Railway Station by William Powell Frith is also viewable at the Royal Holloway Picture Gallery.

Anyway, let’s get to this painting of the week. It’s Piazza dei Signori, Verona by James Holland [1844]. It’s also viewable in the BBC’s Your Paintings.

Piazza dei Signori Verona

Why do I like this painting? I like its strong perspective and architectural proportions; how you can see deep into the street scene, and how the warmth of the blue sky softens the tones of the buildings. It’s simply a pleasing painting of Verona in the 1840’s.

The catalogue of the Royal Holloway paintings Victorian Taste says this,

The painting, exhibited at the Society of British Artists in 1844, was well received. The Art Union described it as ‘powerfully painted, and so unaffectedly that we may readily conceive a just representation of the place’. Similarly the Spectator called it ‘His best picture … a piece of architectural perspective, full of character and admirably drawn, with a pleasing effect of cool shade in the foreground, contrasted with sunny brightness in the distance’.

Jeannie Chapel, the author of Victorian Taste, concludes that ‘The composition is decidedly theatrical with the layers of activity and the central view through the buildings into the far distance framed by the two round arches. The figures appear merely as incidental foreground objects, secondary to the architecture.’

I’d say that’s a reasonable critique.