Friday, July 27, 2012

Postcard from Stratford

This is Stratford-upon-Avon rather than the Olympic one, and things are rather more genteel. No lycra-clad exertion required and no records to beat - more likely that you'll bump into someone clad in Elizabethan finery declaiming iambic pentameter. And the worst of the traffic jams are on the water.

You might have expected me to post pictures of the Shakespeare houses or other picturesque sights but while there I went to an exhibition which made me look at things in a different way. 'Of all the people in all the world...', an installation by Stan's Cafe, used grains of rice to represent the individuals behind statistics in a way which made me fully appreciate what they meant. I work with numbers, but no graph or percentage score ever made me think as hard as this did.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Postcard from Moseley Old Hall

Complicated and labour-intensive gardening does not appeal to me. Here's what does: weathered brick enclosing a walled orchard, a lavender-lined path busy with bees, tea, and cake. This path led to a cafe serving delicious scones. Almost perfect. The quite large drawback is the M54 - makes it easy to get there but provides a constant soundtrack of tyre on tarmac.

Moseley Old Hall makes a big deal out of the fact Charles II hid there for two nights. They obviously hadn't got the cafe sorted back then or I'm sure he'd have stayed longer.

The property used to be a farm so the orchard is in keeping and the stables and other buildings have been put into service with shop, exhibition space etc. But they've done some gardening in what would have been the farm yard. Complicated, labour-intensive knot gardening. Those seventeenth century folk had no idea how to relax.