Monday, 17 June 2019

Down on the Farm....

I have never returned to the Czech Republic quite as late as I have this year and seeing the Christmas display still in the window of Small Worlds made me feel very negligent.  I whisked it out on my second day back, over two weeks ago, but it has taken till now to completely finish the new display.

But worry not - the window has not remained empty, it's just that I have had to add things bit by bit. Moving around does not happen at the same speed as it used to!  As Rose, now approaching 102, is fond of saying "Old age never comes alone!"  And temperatures in the 30s do not help, although Small Worlds does remain blessedly cool - until one starts to move around!

I have several plans for window displays this year and have been collecting things avidly in the UK, both from charity shops and car boot sales.  I haven't been able to use any of the items for this window though as most of the material is still packed in boxes.  So I had to dream up something quite quickly using what was already available in Small Worlds.

I thought that if I filled half the window with an actual dolls house I wouldn't need to find too much else for the other half. So I considered what I had a lot of and decided on farm animals.  Originally I was going to make it a local farm, using Colin Rose's lovely Czech house 
but I discovered it was so heavy that I could not move it without help.   I then realised that the Bears' Cavern house
would work, and even better, the Bears' Christmas house, which used to be my granddaughter's play house here in the Czech Republic, could take its place in the museum - with all signs of Christmas removed of course!

The rest of the task was relatively easy - as you can see, the Children's Corner alone has a fair selection of animals, and there is another farm display to rob, er, borrow from,  under the Czech house, complete with tractor and a campsite.  

I laid some ground work on the window sill and used.... of my useful charity shop acquisitions to make paths. Rolls of wallpaper at around 75p a roll are always worth picking up....

Once I had reluctantly rejected a flock of sheep for size reasons (cow-sized sheep?) it was just a matter of making a tree to knit the two sides of the window together and putting things into place....

The little bears were ejected from the Christmas creche in which they had been for seven months and it turned into a cowshed.... 

The carefree lad in the green hat has been with us for more years than I can remember.....

...the other two I bought last summer at a giant carboot sale in Prague. 

I was delighted when I realised they were by the same maker. They are very like Hummel figurines but I doubt if they are authentic.

Before I leave you with a series of photos of the first of the summer windows, I should perhaps also bring you up to date on other news.  

Last week I had the great pleasure of giving a class of local ten year olds a further glimpse into the fascinating world of the osprey, which I introduced to Bavorov last October.   This opportunity came courtesy of their class teacher, my friend Jana, who then swiftly reported on the event on the school's webpages  helpfully flagging up the existence of Small Worlds at the same time.

I took my porcelain osprey nest along to the classroom and we were able to watch live streaming onto a giant screen from nests in Wales, Poland, Scotland and Estonia. I spoke in simple English, with Jana translating as needed.  The children asked lots of questions - some even in English - and Jana tells me they are following up the talk with some projects and continuing to watch the live streaming at some point each day.   Maybe one day there will be a Czech nest with a webcam on it......

The ospreys are now safely back in Small Worlds 
and I hope donations towards conservation will grow.

They now come complete with a portrait of fish that they are likely to eat (can anyone identify any of them?)......
....courtesy of the wonderful Look and Learn magazine - hands up who remembers it from their childhood? 

Sadly not in time for the classroom talk, a paper model of a young male osprey has arrived in my house. I say young male because his wingspan is just 1.5m - he looks remarkably real and has been beautifully constructed by the artist Colin Rose. He told me today that he will shortly be having an exhibtion in nearby Vodnany not just of his paintings, but of the paper models he builds and the houses he has made for Small Worlds.   In the meantime, here's my very own osprey!

He will shortly be flying through Bavorov to the Small Worlds Museum where he will hang above the Children's Corner.  I think I will then have a naming competition for him -5kc a go for osprey conservation.

Speaking of birds, one of the first things I had to do on arrival was replace the beautiful clock Butterfly made several years ago (about the same time as this guest book) as it will currently only work in a semi-reclining position. 

How fortunate then that I had been given a wonderful clock for Christmas - one that is guaranteed to startle visitors as it plays a different bird call every hour.   I can tell you that the Great Tit has a very strange call!

And in other news, on Thursday I will be interviewed about Small Worlds at an event devoted to presenting a new tourist map of the region of South Bohemia. Small Worlds appears on it as a worthwhile place to visit and as far as I can gather,there will be a number of travel writers in the audience, as well as members of the general public. I have been asked to take a few small houses and room boxes with me.   I do enjoy getting some free publicity!

Back to Down on the Farm - I leave you with a series of photos, taken with difficulty once the display was in position, and I look forward to seeing you again fairly soon once some more boxes have been unpacked!

Duck pond before...

...and after

Now all I have to do is work out how to explain Little Miss Muffet to the mainly Czech visitors to Small Worlds. (Nice link - keep scrolling!)

Saturday, 20 April 2019

In an Eclectic Manor....

"Easter?" I hear you cry - but on Cestina's blog it still seems to be Christmas. How can that be? Quite simply the real world, with its political shenanigans and Brexit brouhaha of the past months, has so distracted and dismayed me that I have been unable to find any consolation at all in the world of miniatures.

However even my despair, committed European that I am, at what is happening, cannot override my shame at having a Christmas blog post still showing when Easter is very definitely upon us!

Particularly as I already had all the photos poised for the next post...

So even though I find it hard to write about Small Worlds when I am in the UK here goes, with apologies for my neglect. 

I do have here in England a very handy display dolls house - about 4 foot long by 2.5 foot high.

Its usefulness lies in the fact that it is only 10 inches deep so can sit at the back of a coffee table in my bedroom and provide a temporary home for miniatures acquired during my time in the UK.

And what a rich haul it has been this year. Not just the things I have picked up in charity shops, something we sadly lack in the Czech Republic, but the very generous Christmas and birthday gifts I got from Rose-next-door and Jo who looks after her so well.

This is a somewhat photo-heavy post since it mostly consists of showing off many of the items either given or acquired. They won't of course be staying here, with one or two exceptions. Everything will find a home in due course in the Small Worlds Museum. If all goes according to plan I should be heading back there mid-May, with the museum opening on Saturday 15th June.

Pretty well all the furniture in Eclectic Manor, apart from the bathroom and the 3 Raine's Take a Seat chairs, has come from Rose and Jo.

So starting, as one should, in the entrance hall, you can see a small bookshelf and an oak desk and chair....

Moving along to the kitchen......

.... you will find one of two little dolls who arrived, courtesy of Riny Tromp, from the Netherlands. Her companion is up in one of the bedrooms. Thank you Riny!

The Peter Fagan cat pieces, of which I now have a fair number, are all charity shop or ebay finds. The crocheted rug is by Jo, and the maid comes from her and Rose..... does pretty well everything in the little scullery next door ....

In the first floor drawing room is a grand piano and chair plus a fireplace......

...and two Raine's Take a Seat chairs. I have a large collection of these, as many of you will know by now. It irks me that they are slightly out of scale, too small by just a fraction, in the same way as it irks me that the fashion models, also by Raine and shortly to be seen upstairs, are slightly too large for 12th scale. I still use them though. The Christmas tree is handmade by my sister-in-law Mette.

Next door you will find the nursery, most of the items here are charity shop finds, including the puppet show.

I was delighted to come across this as I have quite a substantial collection of Czech string puppets which also live in my bedroom here in the UK. I am on the lookout for a proper theatre for them....tiny clowns at the front are by Butterfly made a great many years ago now.

Beneath the roof, the spare bedroom has Jo and Rose beds and pillows, scented no less....

....and the second doll from Holland; nice that she has a dressing table , courtesy of J&R, to preen herself in front of....The rug is by Jo.

The bathroom houses the first of the headless models which I found in a local hospice shop. These Raine's fashion figures will probably join others in Gosthwaites underwear and corsetry department.

Flat out in the main bedroom is the man of the house. I think he must have been out on the town last night since he is clearly dreaming about very tall, headless women. Poor man....

They too may find themselves in Gosthwaites Department Store

So much for their Christmas presents to me. But I still had a birthday to come - 77 on the 20th of January. I was definitely not expecting what happened when I went round to Rose's for tea and cake!

This innocent carrier contained four pretty boxes which when opened revealed seventy-seven tiny wrapped presents! (Well about 65 tiny ones actually since the biggest boxes had a few rather larger items ...

Can you imagine how long it takes to wrap up and seal 77 presents? A true labour of love by Jo, (under Rose's guidance of course...)

I can tell you that it also takes ages and ages to open them all again! And although I had planned to set everything out and take photos of each and every item I am afraid that you will have to be content with a glimpse into the boxes.....

You will certainly meet everything once it arrives in Small Worlds.

Thank you Rose and Jo for such wonderful surprises!

In the meantime, apologies again for leaving so long a gap between posts and all best wishes for a very happy Easter break. The sun is shining through the window onto me as I write - so much so that I can barely see the screen. I wish you as much sunshine in the days to come and hope to be with you again soon from the Czech Republic.

PS Butterfly has just sent me a link to a wonderful blog post by a regular visitor to my blog - Helen of  Stamping by H.  This is to her other blog Photos by H and as I commented there, has brought back wonderful memories for me of Kew Gardens - visit it for an Easter treat!