Saturday, March 27, 2010

Laptop revived

Its not been a good time for my poor little laptop. First, at the start of the month it managed to catch a virus. It didn't do any damage but Window's security blocked my access to the Internet, and since I couldn't get online to update my anti-virus software I couldn't zap the virus! Caught in catch 22 I had to ask good ol' Wayne to help me out.

The poor
pc had only been back home for a few weeks when ZAP!! all of a sudden the hard drive died. So it was back to Wayne for more repairs. (Isn't it fantastic having an IT guy for a son-in-law?) I will have to treat him to a beer when we are on holiday next week. Anyway its sorted out now, he managed to save all my files, and having spent 2 days setting the thing back up to my preferences, re-installing all my software (so pleased my SCAL activation code still worked, a tad panicked when the usb ports lost their drivers, but cricut seems happy now), and finding most of my 'favourites' again, I am ready to go.

Nothing to upload. The trouble with having no computer is that I
couldn't print out photos, or labels, cut shapes, or even look for inspiration. Plus I have also had a bit of work the last two weeks. Spare time has been spent doing the huge cross stitch that was a Christmas present.

Last weekend was a freebie entry day to National Trust properties. Now last year we were members of the English Heritage, the only downside being there are not that many EH places nearby and most of those are castles, which tends to wear after a while. We were hoping to join NT this year as there are more interesting buildings and a plethora of gardens to visit.

Martin was working so I teamed up with mum and dad. Since they had already been members of the NT for four years previously, I left it to dad to decide which property we would visit. He chose a route that he hoped would give us time to visit a couple of places (provided the
internet voucher would let us in). Our first stop then was the home of the actress Ellen Terry. A beautiful old house - errr... I could tell you a little more, but I discovered, sadly, that the National Trust are not that hot on giving you information about the place you are visiting. In fact Dad and I had quite a heated debate about it, as I will recount in a mo. Our first port of call was the little girls room, and while we hung around outside waiting for mum to finish washing her hands, Dad started to chatting to an old man having a coffee in the deserted coffee room. I was amazed at how much the guy knew about the place, and listened on as Dad and he chatted about how the house used to belong to the Harbour master (? What!!?? the place was in the middle of the countryside), how the sea had receded leaving farm land, so the house later became a farmhouse, and then on how Ellen Terry (apparently a famous actress from years and years ago) had fallen in love with the place and begged the farmer to sell it to him. Finally he told the romantic story of how she had eventually come to own the building and how she had opened the mini Barn Theatre (which we then went in to look at).

It was only afterwards that I discovered this man was actually one of the volunteer guides the National Trust have working for them.
I loved the garden even though it wasnt in bloom yet. The hard winter had put all grown back a month, although there were plenty of snowdrops, even the daffs weren't out.
The house itself was quite crowded, and we only spent enough time there to give each room a cursery glance, as time was marching on, and the property dad really wanted to see was the former home of Rudyard Kipling. Now I didnt do history at school - the teacher terrified me, and accept for medieval farming learnt at junior shcool, and a bit about the Romans, all I was expected to learn at Grammar school (before I dropped the subject) was how to draw and colour in to perfection, the mediterannian coast line, and by rote the names of all the English kings and queens (which I couldnt do because dyslexia did not allow for me to rote learn).

So my total knowledge of Rudyard Kipling was that he wrote the Just So series of children's stories, and The Jungle Book. After a couple of hours at his house, I came out knowing that Rudyard Kipling wrote the Just So series of children's stories, and The Jungle Book, he owned a house in Vermont and he was an untidy worker.

Although I was impressed with the old house, I was not impressed with the total lack of information available. In English Heritage places there were audio tours, and huge billboards with lots of info, everything was labeled with links back to the home and owners. Here labels consisted of 'This is a brooch' type sentences if there were any labels at all.

So since mum had been a member for four years I asked if all the National Trust places were like that. This led to quite a debate with Dad. He insisted I didnt need labels, that in every room was a volunteer 'guide' gemmed up on the place and its owner, and all I needed to do was ask questions. I insisted this didnt work for me (and possibly didnt work for lots of others either) For a start, it meant you had to feel comfortable with going up to complete strangers and asking them questions ..I dont. It had to mean they had to be free to answer questions, but since dad tended to get there before me that didnt work either. And mainly in order to ask questions you have to have some kind of background knowledge to base a question on. I didnt have a big enough knowledge base of the man to know where to even start asking.

Infact at one point I had wondered off downstairs leaving Mum and Dad upstairs, where I found myself in the hall alone with one of the volunteers. When I walked in he turned his back on me and started to tidy the piles of brouchures advertising other places to visit. He totally ignored me, and when I walked towards the side of the large table he was stood by, he walked off in the other direction.

I was also was somewhat confussed as to what the Flour Mill at the end of the garden had been restored and was selling bread and flour, had to do with Kipling since he had shut the mill down and just used the water wheel to supply electricity to the house. The mill did have a label of sorts which tried to explain how and why kipling had done this, but even with my science degree I had to read it 5 times as it seems the information started from a point which assumed you already knew all about what Kipling had done to the mill.

This all left me with the feeling that I had learnt nothing and could have walked round the entire estate in 10 mins.

I didnt sign up to become a member.

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