This week… tigers, skulls and a Del Boy moment

Temperatures have dropped in the UK this week and after what seemed like endless days of autumn sunshine we now have heavy rain. From now until around March bracing country walks, warming hot soups and evenings on the sofa watching great classic films are the general rule, including an annual rerun of Le Carré’s Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (BBC, 1979) with the much-missed Alec Guinness.

In addition, though, I have been seeking out interesting events from outdoor foraging to a cookery course in a barn. I’m keen to seek out more of this type of activity so please get in touch if you have something special ‘happening’ over the coming weeks, whether wild dining, a yoga retreat or a wine tasting.


I recently visited the original 14th century stable block at Winchester College, now home to the college’s treasure trove of artefacts. Not only is this little collection a delight but the stories behind the heritage objects on display are utterly charming.

The Treasury, Winchester College.

A series of eight Pre-Raphaelite stained glass panels that had lain forgotten in the attics for many years, are now on display in all their exquisite glory. Created in 1870 each one is painted with a scene from Tennyson’s epic poem Idylls of the King, and decorated with flowers, birds and butterflies. In one panel the parting of lovers, Lancelot and Guinevere, fearing discovery, are portrayed.

A handsome bronze of Hermes (c. 1900) is a copy of an original from AD79, found in Herculaneum in 1798 and now in Naples Museum. The messenger of the gods, an Olympian deity in ancient Greek mythology, wears winged sandals. Poor Hermes previously languished on the bank of the river Itchen, a popular college swimming spot, and was later moved to the back of the PE centre, remaining there until 2008.

The jewel of the collection is surely the Parthenon Frieze casts. The original carving around the Temple of Athena at the Acropolis was created between 447 and 432 BC. The copy casts were created in the late 19th century by Domenico Brucciani from molds in the British Museum. They too were stored in the stable attics for most of the last century but are now displayed side by side, with the effect that the horsemen appear to be galloping around the walls. These casts are very special as they show details of the carvings that have since worn from the original due to weathering.

Current exhibitions at The Treasury include a remarkable display of early Chinese ceramics, and navigational tools and books from 1400-1600.

A Touch of Glass*

The State Rooms at Windsor Castle. L to R: The Crimson Drawing Room; The Green Drawing Room (photo Mark Fiennes). Main blog photos The Crimson Drawing Room. © Royal Collection Trust Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2021

At Windsor Castle recently they have been dusting down the chandeliers in preparation for the opening of the State Rooms. From now until March the public can nosey-around the private apartments created for George IV. The sumptuous interiors are today used by Her Majesty The Queen and members of the Royal Family for official entertaining. During the horrendous fire at the Castle in 1992, the Crimson Drawing Room was severely damaged but it has been carefully restored to its 19th-century appearance. Tickets at @RCT @royalcollectiontrust

* “A Touch of Glass” was the first episode of Only Fools and Horses to attract a UK television audience of over 10 million.

Opening in October

L to R: Poussin and the Dance at the National Gallery; Light Lines: The Architectural Photographs of Hélène Binet at the Royal Academy; Wildlife Photographer of the Year at the Natural History Museum.

  • Poussin and the Dance at the National Gallery opens 9 October.
  • Light Lines: The Architectural Photographs of Hélène Binet opens 23 October at the Royal Academy of Arts.
  • Late Constable from 30 October also at the Royal Academy.
  • Wildlife Photographer of the Year at the Natural History Museum from 15 October.


Skull shaped vodka bottles from Crystal Head.

Many celebrities seem to be jumping on the alocohol band wagon lately and there’s no end it seems to the gin and vodka products being introduced. There’s no affiliation on my part, and I haven’t even tried the product, but I like the idea of this skull shaped bottle, designed by Ghostbusters’ star, Dan Aykroyd, and John Alexander back in 2007/08. Perfect for grown-up Halloween celebrations. @CrystalHeadVodka

That’s all for this week. Have a good week, stay safe (and warm) wherever you are in the world.

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