Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Interesting Times --


As I write, Gordon Brown has just resigned as Prime Minister of the UK. I gather that the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats have been able to work out some sort of deal to form a coalition government. The Browns are going into Buckingham Palace to tell the queen (as if she hadn't heard). There. That's one thing settled.

This morning, though, I heard on the news that British Airways' cabin crews are about to launch a strike that will continue beyond the date when we are scheduled to fly home. Oops. I told Robin he'd better start job hunting if we're going to be stuck in England. (That won't happen, though we may end up spending a few extra days here.)

Our brief sunny break is over. Winter has returned. We've had rain off and on today, and it's cold outside. Never mind. That's why I have my winter woolies. Off we went to Castle Drogo. I'd never heard of Castle Drogo before. It turns out that it was built in the early twentieth century by a fellow who had made a fortune in the grocery business and fancied himself a descendant of a rich and powerful medieval family. He retired at the age of 33 and set about building this monument to his purported ancestry. The property is now in the hands of the National Trust, who are spending another fortune in an attempt to overcome the persistent damp that plagues the building.

All that makes it sound a gloomy place, doesn't it? We enjoyed our tour, though, and my camera got a good workout.  There were plenty of volunteers who were eager to answer our questions and point out particularly interesting items - like the enormous tapestries that hang in the drawing room and the library. The tapestries came from Spain.





I greatly admired the crystal, although I honestly wouldn't want to own it. Washing and drying it would be way too much work (and too nerve-wracking). Just look at the fluting around the foot.

I took a photo of the entire dining room table, because the volunteer seemed immensely proud of it.

Then I found myself in a small room in which two volunteers were cleaning a set of china. They were using cotton swabs (like really big Q-tips) dipped in water. As I watched, they painstakingly rubbed the year's dust and grime off the hand-painted china. If there were a particularly stubborn spot, one of them told me, they would put a bit of mild Fairy Liquid (that's dish detergent) on the swab.

I enjoyed my chat with these volunteers (and frankly, I felt more at home in their part of the house than in the grand upstairs rooms).
When I left them, I checked out the kitchen with its dozens of copper pots and pans, all polished to a high gleam, then kept going. Between the master bedroom and the adjoining study, I found the brightest, shiniest, downright cleanest mirror I have ever seen. It was so impressive, I asked what on earth the volunteers used to clean it. Nobody seemed to know. Eventually, I went back down to where I had watched the cleaning of the china, and asked  the people who did know.  "A microfibre cloth," said the gentleman I had spoken to earlier.

"That's it?"  My jaw dropped.

You must understand that this is not my first visit to England. I've been here -- oh, nine times or so -- and I've had to wash some windows and mirrors during my stays here. I soon discovered that England hasn't discovered Windex yet, or any of the glass cleaners that we take for granted in North America. They have some stuff in bottles that purports to be glass cleaner, but it isn't. It's just stuff in bottles that you spray on your windows and smear around. It doesn't work. But here I was in this modern castle, staring at a mirror so clear, they have to put chairs in front of it to keep people from walking into it.
(You'll note that I am dressed for Arctic conditions, which was just as well. ) But look at that mirror. I should also have asked where it was made. I imagine the quality of the mirror has a lot to do with how incredibly clear the image is, but nonetheless, I'm heading to the store to buy some microfibre cloths as soon as I get home.

So that was today. We tried to have a walk around a lovely reservoir on the way home, but the rain started about two minutes into the walk, so we thought better of it and came home to have a nice, warm supper.

3 comments:

John Hayes said...

Microfibre is good! Eberle uses it on pretty much everything that doesn't move. I loved this sentence: "I took a photo of the entire dining room table, because the volunteer seemed immensely proud of it."

AngelMay said...

Microfiber......I'll have to try that. Although, I really can't stand the feel of it. It feels absolutely icky. :)

BTW: Do you suppose the Queen acted surprised at the news?

Sandra Leigh said...

John, he was proud. All the volunteers were. I love National Trust sites in general because they are a labour of love on the part of the volunteers.

AM - You're right. Microfibre does feel icky - but I'm going to try to get used to that. Think of all the Windex I wouldn't have to buy!

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