Sunday, August 25, 2019

Cragside House

William George Armstrong was a Victorian inventor, industrial magnate, philanthropist, etc. He did not rise from humble origins. Educated initially in law, he was more interested in mechanical engineering, principally hydraulics, and developed several new machines, after which he went into manufacturing. He was elected a fellow of the Royal Society at mid-century. He also got into armaments, inventing the first rifled, breech-loading cannon, the Armstrong Gun. His industries on the Elswick and the Tyne eventually employed some 25,000, building machines, bridges, guns, and even warships. He was knighted in 1859, and elevated to the peerage in 1887. Cragside originally was a hunting retreat, but then grew and grew, incorporating several of Armstrong's other dabblings: hydraulically-powered dumbwaiter, dishwashers, kitchen rotisseries. It was the first private home to have hydro-electricity. Be impressed. We were impressed that all this, especially the garden and grounds, grew from a featureless Northumberland crag in the mid 1800s. As we were told by a gardener, there is scarcely a plant or tree in sight that was not placed there by a human hand. It is a marvel.
Drone view; Cragside is sometimes called the "northern Neuschwanstein,"
evidently by people who have seen neither Neuschwanstein or the Alps; nevertheless...
View from the Iron Bridge, which I hiked down to in order to get this photo

Drive-up view

Lord Armstrong of Cragside

In the kitchen with its hydro-electrically powered rotisseries

Touring the house, the usual nice digs, furnishings, etc.

Plunge in the Turkish bath area

Note peacock fire-place screen

After a long hall of curios, specimens, paintings, busts, the usual Victorian things...

You enter the great hall, with this, the most intricately carved fireplace we have
ever seen--done in Milan, for Cragside

Sanctum sanctorum of the fireplace

A bit more of the great hall, three sides of which are paintings

Including this Turner

The usual Olympic size pool
Scientific paraphrenalia on display

Music room; there was plenty more, but you get the picture...

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Durham And Its Cathedral, 2019

I think this was our 4th visit to Durham and its cathedral, the first being in 1989, the next in 2009 ( and the next yet in 2013 (, and If you're into cathedrals, particularly very old Norman/Romanesque ones, Durham is a must-see. Plus it's an agreeably-sized and charming city, the old bits of which are easily reached via the P&R.
The P&R is actually adjacent to the university's suburban campus; yes, that Bill
Bryson; he was chancellor at Durham, one of Britain's most prestigious, from 2005
to 2011

"Pointers"--volunteers pointing the way to the city's sights for tourists

Main old town square

There's a World Heritage Site office--Durham and cathedral are so designated--
in the old town, with a wealth of information, including this helpful model
showing the river's bend around the cathedral and old town

OK, I know it's silly, but perhaps the best thing we saw this time in Durham
was the five-part history of Durham cathedral in LEGO: the first part is at, and the rest are at;
something to behold
Outside the old university library building
In its gift shoppe, a literary map of the island
In the cathedral; taking pix has been an issue here; see my previous posts;
apparently no more; I took a few nonetheless, but will post fewer still
The cathedral has "pointers" too
Helpful model

Nave view




Good grief! Is this part of the Dracula thing?

Cloister: the Holy Roller is gone! See previous Durham posts

Refectory, now a permanent exhibit of cathedral treasures

Durham's LEGO cathedral...finished some years ago...probably the first done,
I'd guess

One of the nicest of the cathedral gift shoppes we've seen

Bumper in cathedral colors

The river Wear--practically right downtown 

Cote De Yorkshire, 3: Captain Cook Memorial Museum

If you travel in the Pacific as we have over the years...western Canada, Alaska, Hawaii, New Zealand, know the name of Captain James Cook, whose three voyages in the later 1700s are among the marvels of exploration. Cook was from coastal Yorkshire and apprenticed in Whitby before joining the Royal Navy. At every juncture in his life, he was recognized for his considerable talents, and at every juncture, he chose the more challenging option. Despite his fame, even in his own lifetime, the man is very largely an enigma, and little has come down from his personal life. The museum in Whitby is a good example. Cook apprenticed as a teen under Captain John Walker in Whitby for six years, rising extraordinarily quickly from servant, to seaman, to mate, to master, and was finally offered his own command and the prospect of a life of security and relative comfort, running coal from Newcastle to London. This offer he characteristically turned down, enlisting instead as an ordinary seaman in the Royal Navy, where his rise was similarly meteoric. The museum in Whitby is the Walker house...that is, the house the Walkers lived in some years after Cook had departed. Cook may have seen the house in 1771, during his one return to Whitby after he joined the navy. One sees similar things with a store Cook worked in, the school he attended, the family home on a nearby farm. (He was a son of poor farm laborers). All these have some connection with Cook, but they are not the real things, which 200+ years later, simply no longer exist. But I digress. He is a fascinating if enigmatic character whom we have encountered many times along many ways, and I did not want to miss this principal Cook museum in the area. My visit was augmented by reading Tony Horwitz' excellent Blue Latitudes: Boldly Going Where Captain Cook Has Gone Before. Just before finishing the book, I learned of Horwitz' sudden death on a book tour last May. Journalism and travel writing particularly will be the poorer without him.
A small multi-story edifice, right on the harbor, the home of the John Walker family,
for whom Cook served his 6 year apprenticeship

Some rooms are dressed up as they might have looked in the mid-18th century

Others are stuffed with models, dioramas, letters, portraits, maps, instruments...

A chair from the widow Cook's London home

Cook's death, at the hands of Hawaiians, 1779; his first visit there was
quite successful: he was treated as a god; the second, not so much

Portrait after the first voyage

Although his journals and logs and reports ran to thousands of pages, not that
much is really known of the man's inner workings

Map depicting the three voyages

Captain and Mrs. William Bligh; Bligh was an officer on the third voyage; he
later had his own command, which had its issues, including The Mutiny, the
3600 mile open boat voyage from Tahiti to South America, and subsequent voyages
attempting to bring the bread fruit to the Caribbean to feed England's slaves there;
perhaps no man has suffered more injustice from Hollywood than Bligh...I've read

Model of the Endeavour; all three of Cook's ships were upgraded Whitby colliers;
slow but sturdy

The 4th Earl of Sandwich, First Lord of the Admiralty, and
prime mover in this age of exploration; one of Cook's main
supporters; Cook named the Sandwich Islands and many
other places for Sandwich; yes, the same Sandwich who
famously asked for some meat between two slices of bread;
no, Hawaii is not Hawaiian for sandwich; it is Hawaiian
for Spam

A good bit of the museum contained items from Joseph Banks, the aristo-fop
botanist that went along on the first voyage, collecting and classifying some
1400 new specimens (not including numerous ladies from Tahiti); in later
years, a respected man of science, founder of Kew Gardens

A bit of an inventor, too

Tools of the 18th century botanist

Linnaeus' taxonomical system was never the same after Cook and Banks

Statue of Cook overlooking Whitby harbor