A Strange Eventful History: The Dramatic Lives of Ellen Terry, Henry Irving and Their Remarkable Families by Michael Holroyd was only at the bottom of my to-read list because of its size. I’m glad I read it though – it’s a fascinating insight into the Terry-Irving partnership as well as their individual lives and their families. Definitely recommended for all theatre lovers.
The Garden Museum can be found near Lambeth Palace, a place where the history of gardens can be explored. I’m no gardener, but I was interested in visiting, especially after seeing a play in the grounds earlier this year. The Museum was originally founded in 1977 in order to save the church of St Mary’s from demolition; this church is the burial place of John Tradescant (c.1570-1638), the first great gardener and plant-hunter in British history. The garden of the museum, at the back of the church, contains plants from the seventeenth century, such as the scarlet runner bean, red maple and tulip tree, which originally grew in Tradescant’s garden. His tomb can also be found here. The knot garden was designed by the Museum’s President, The Dowager Marchioness of Salisbury.
In 2008, the interior of the church was converted into a centre for exhibitions and events. Three exhibitions and over 30 talks and interviews each year explore figures from garden history; there is also a permanent display of items relating to gardening.
When I first entered the museum, I headed towards the temporary exhibition, Gnome & Away: Secrets of the Collection. This is the last chance to see many of the weird and wonderful items from the Garden Museum’s rich collections, including gardening tools, a desk, toy greenhouses, numerous garden gnomes, and even a 1950s flamingo ornament.
After this, I went up the stairs to the permanent collection. This was an eclectic range of gardening-related items, including works of art, photographs and gardening tools and accessories. Despite not being a gardener myself I found this interesting: my favourite items were the old-fashioned lawnmowers, the adult version being displayed alongside a miniature model for children.
Outside, the knot garden is a lovely relaxing oasis where you can sit and enjoy the flowers. If you are interested in gardening, this would be a lovely place to examine all the different species of flowers and plants they have.
Finally I stopped off in the cafe for a cup of tea and a piece of cake, which was delicious.
The Museum is due to close on 30 October for a major refurbishment project, and is not due to reopen until early 2017. You only have a couple of months, therefore, to visit. It’s a really nice place to visit even without a strong interest in gardening, so I do recommend it.
Address: Lambeth Palace Road, London, SE1 7LB
Opening Hours: 10.30am-5pm (4pm on Saturdays)
Prices: £7.50 adults, £6.50 concessions, £3 students and Art Fund, children free
Agatha Christie: Unfinished Portrait, subtitled A Life in Photographs, is an exhibition of pictures from the popular author’s life on show at Bankside Gallery. As a fairly recent but enthusiastic fan of her work, I went along to the free exhibition.
The collections cover Christie’s life from her early childhood and adolescence to her first and second marriages and the birth of her daughter, as well as her burgeoning literary career. It was really interesting to see her life in pictures, and the images were accompanied by Christie’s own words which really brought her to life. The exhibition also featured the portrait of Agatha Christie by expressionist painter Oscar Kokoschka, painted in 1969 for Christie’s 80th birthday.
For my birthday in July I got some money from my auntie and I decided to spend it on a jewellery-making workshop at Tatty Devine. I really enjoyed the previous workshop I took part in – a charm bracelet, which I made last year – and this one appealed to me because it involved making a parakeet necklace.
The red multi parakeet has been on my wishlist for months, but it’s near-impossible to get hold of one these days. However, the jewel-toned colours of this unique workshop design are gorgeous too. I signed up for the Wednesday evening workshop at the end of August.
The workshop was held at Tatty Devine’s Brick Lane store, so I headed there after work. I got there in plenty of time and was able to admire their relatively new workshop space.
I was offered a glass of rosé while I waited for the others to arrive. As they all trooped in we sat down and began to lay out our parakeet pieces on the handy template.
We then had to peel a little of the protective film off each piece to ensure the parts were facing the right way – obviously I’d managed to get some of mine the wrong way round so this step was much needed!
To turn our feathers into a beautiful parakeet, we then needed to use two pairs of pliers to open up a jump ring, slide one, then two feathers onto it (making sure they were the right way around), before closing the jump ring. On the advice of the lovely Tatty staff I put together one wing, then another, before joining them up to the parakeet body.
After my parakeet was complete, it was time to attach the chain. I chose a silver chain, and as instructed, cut it in half, fixed jump rings to either end, and attached the chain to the parakeet.
I had a lovely time putting my parakeet together; it was tricky but I think I got the hang of it fairly quickly. It definitely helped that I had done a workshop before, and I really enjoyed chatting to other Tatty fans. I drank a couple of glasses of wine too – slowly, though – wine and pliers don’t really mix! I took my parakeet home in a Tatty Devine box to keep it safe.
Interested in a Tatty Devine workshop? Workshop dates are announced frequently and you can make all sorts of interesting things. You can find details at tattydevine.com/workshops.