Tuesday, August 28, 2007

last week of the holidays

Current work: nonfiction (draft, c8ish)
Listening to: Nick Saunders, Resonance
Reading: Nicola Cornick, Deceived

Scary to think that the kids are back at school, a week today. Which means I need to ease them back into school routines, this week. (Easier said than done. Madam had a hissy fit last night and wouldn’t go to bed. Consequently she’ll be tired and grumpy this morning… and she’s just invaded our bed, which is how come I’m awake now. She hogged all the space until her dad sent her back to her own bed – and then she had the light on to read, which meant I couldn’t sleep. When she fell asleep, I turned her light off; but now I’m wide awake. Gee, thanks. Guess I’ll be on coffee all day.)

Yesterday, went to Houghton Hall – built by Sir Robert Walpole, the first English Prime Minister. (His nephew Horace was the Gothic novelist who wrote 'The Castle of Otranto’.) The house was interesting inside – and they had a lovely guide for children so they could see different things, and Madam amused several people by reading her guide out loud (and very good she was, too).

But what really interested me is that one of the subjects of my book – Walpole’s grandson, the Third Earl – doesn’t appear to have any portraits there. OK, he sold the paintings to Catherine the Great (to pay off his father’s and grandfather’s debts) and removed the stone steps from the east front, and was a bit of, um, a character… But I was expecting at least a portrait. Or a memorial in the church where he’s buried. His bed is in the house (the one given by his godparents, George II and Queen Caroline) but no portraits. Hmm. (Bang went my idea of asking to take a photograph, which isn’t allowed inside the house anyway.)

The gardens were quite pretty (and in the rose season I bet it would rival Alnwick for scent – the pic here is of the sunken fountain garden in the centre). The conservatory was lovely and I thought I’d try the macro function of the camera with a closeup flower pic.

Then we went to Hunstanton – the place with the famous striped cliffs (as mentioned in my book The Doctor’s Tender Secret). It’s meant to be a really good source of fossils. We beachcombed for about an hour and found nothing, but we enjoyed it anyway.


Michelle Styles said...

It is scary how fast the summer has gone! But you are lucky, yours are starting on the same day.
My youngest starts in a week's time. My daughter next Wednesday because she is year 10. And my eldest -- well I have to go for an interview with him on Wednesday morning. And then I think he finally has classes starting on Friday. It gets very confusing.
I was reading about the Walpoles -- the catholic ones last night as well as about Oxburgh...

Liz Fielding said...

I can't believe it's nearly September -- and no summer to speak of. :(

A huge -- if belated -- congrats for your Waldenbooks top ten listing, Kate. Well deserved!

Amy Andrews said...

Oooo, Kate. I've been there.
It was many years ago now but nevertheless.....
Did you guys get the eclipse in the northern hemisphere last night?
The moon was a gorgeous red. Very, very mystical.

Jan Jones said...

My parents-in-law used to live at Hunstanton. Many happy hours spent on the beach there with the kids.

Actually, many hours spent trekking across the sand TO the sea when the tide was wrong. It goes out a heck of a long way on the North Norfolk coast!

Kate Hardy said...

Michelle, the Walpoles are an interesting family, aren't they?

Thank you, Liz :o)

Amy - I missed an eclipse? Oh, nononononono. Hope you enjoyed it. (I would've done so, too.)

Jan - the tide was in. But I know what you mean. Day before Chris was born I insisted on going to the sea at Holkham. The tide was out. But I needed to paddle... so imagine one beached whale lumbering over a mile of sand *g*