Hold on a moment, I hear you cry. I thought you had a dolls house museum, not a horse-riding establishment? And this is, of course, quite true. I have a museum and right from the start it has been bursting at the seams.
Cue slight diversion: Does anyone remember how Small Worlds looked when we first opened? Until I was trawling photos to put in this blogpost I had forgotten that we began with a completely different layout, not only for the houses, but also in the Children's Corner - a quick reminder:
|Original layout in 2013 - one bay|
|New layout in 2014|
|Three bays although third is narrow...|
Since I opened Small Worlds four summers ago I have been politely enquiring whether there might not be some available space in the same building - which already houses the town library, my hairdresser, a highly skilled masseuse and a children's doctor.
I was aware that there had once been a playgroup along the corridor, in what I was told had once been the town prison, but I had never seen a child, other than waiting to see the doctor. For some reason, however, I kept being assured there was no space free.
|3rd door along on the left|
This was right at the end of July, just before I left for a few days in the UK to celebrate a very special 99th birthday, so we only made a swift visit but I could at once see the possibilities. I was a little daunted by the rather flamboyant colour scheme of lurid pink, orange and lime green, and the enormous pile of empty teabag boxes in the middle room, but Jana assured me that everything would be cleared away (the boxes were apparently left over from a project that the children had been working on) and I knew that much of the wall space would be taken up with shelf units, thus hiding some of the glaring colour.
After viewing the rooms we hastened round to the Town Hall (which thanks to some EU funding, and to my great relief, now boasts a comfy lift) and sought a meeting with the mayor. He was very willing to rent the rooms to me though apparently it was going to take a while to get the necessary admin done. I pointed out that my son and grandchildren would be visiting in a couple of weeks time and that it would be fantastic if I could make use of their services to shift stuff. He saw no problem with that, even if the formalities could not be completed so quickly, and it was agreed that as soon as the rooms had been emptied, I could occupy them.
|Original Children's Corner|
I promised Adam that I would only ask for one day's help so as not to encroach further on their holiday, and my aim on that day was to construct six sets of metal shelves, shift everything that was not a display item, or
|Children's Corner 2014|
|All green boxes to be moved|
Fortunately, before they reeled back in horror at the ambitious day's work ahead of them, Colin, of the South Bohemian farmhouse which he so beautifully made for Small Worlds after remarking that I really ought to have an example of a local house on display, and his wife Roz, volunteered to spend the day helping us rather than foraging for fungi. A noble sacrifice! It turned out that without them Adam and I would have probably collapsed long before we had accomplished half the list.....and the children would have headed back to the house in disgust.
My granddaughter rewrote my list of things to do, thoughtfully adding the phrase "and anything else that crops up during the day" and off we went. As you can see from the photos we really all worked very hard indeed, from the youngest to the oldest.
Apart from overseeing what had to be moved I also sped home at lunchtime to prepare a worthy repast for the workers who had shifted pretty well everything out of Small Worlds itself by the time it was cooked, and had built all bar one of the shelf units.
After an unhurried lunch it was the turn of the garage and I blessed the fact that we had two large cars at our disposal. These made several trips from house to museum and by the last one the children had given up and adjourned to the playroom where we left them in peace - they had earned a rest.
After Adam & Co had gone home I unlocked the door and gazed at a giant mess, particularly in the central room.
|By the time these were taken...|
|...most of the boxes had gone....|
The other two rooms have lino on the floor so the middle one was scheduled to become the workroom, with a later addition of a large table, and I decided that, since I am hoping to run small workshops (finally!) round that table, this would be the right room to hold all the books and magazines I possess - many! So three more shelf units went in there.
The first room is a sort of ante-chamber and will partly be used for shuffling houses in and out if I want to change the display. It also contains the all-important kettle. I decided to go for a lilac kettle, figuring that the rainbow effect of the colour scheme could not get much worse!
Hardly had the family departed, when friend Lynda (of the ballet shoes and liquorice allsorts) arrived. I know from experience that she is a sorter par excellence and had indeed done much of the packing up of miniature things when we moved from our home of forty years back in 2013.
Here was another challenge for her! Some of the boxes she now found herself sorting through were very familiar to her -
"I remember this from back then" was her frequent refrain. I had acquired some brilliant plastic boxes (you can see them just above Lynda's bent back), I think they are known as party trays, but they are completely perfect for dolls house items and I kicked myself that I had only bought up the reduced stock of blue and green ones, ignoring the yellow, because we soon found that we could use many more of them than I possessed. And there were no more to be found in any branch of Kaufland.
Fortunately the visitor flow to the museum had almost completely died away by this time so I could also spend time sorting and boxing up items, mainly in Small Worlds itself, and by the
|Who on earth keeps hangers in a teaspoon?|
|And all gone!|
Once that was accomplished I took great delight in labelling.....
.....every single smart box that is now on the shelves.
A few more days passed and along came the next set of visitors from England. Not so much left to do now.....
.....magazines to get into number order and a giant bag of material to sort through and categorise.
|Getting ready for the table top|
|Scheduled for Small Worlds|
Now it is all to hand, I can not only work on the table, but behind me is a giant windowsill to put things on - each of the rooms has one in fact. A painting project like this could only have been done before when Small Worlds was closed.
|Doesn't take me long to make a mess!|
And what is more I can work in the Stables and hear if someone tinkles the little bell at the entrance to the museum itself so that I can spend my time profitably between visitors.
|Ondrej, shelf-putter-upper-in chief with assistance from Jana|
And a final view of The Stables ....
Do join me again soon - ah, hang on a minute - did I hear someone enquire why I call it The Stables?
Well - a hobby in Czech is a koníček - a pony. People who visit Small Worlds often say to me you haven't got a koníček here, you have a kůň - a horse. And where else should a horse live but in a stable?