Barnard Castle Bowes Museum

Jan Leeming

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Me looking brave before taking to the air (and the wing) of the plane. Wow, it was cold !! But the whole experience was totally exhilarating.

 

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Jan's Blog

Computers and the internet are amazing things. One of my concerns with putting together this site was that it could remain current, yet with all my travelling I've often much to say, but little time to say it. Years ago when reading the news it would take me days on end to reply to the kind letters people sent. Now, with the magic of the modern age, I can keep you up to date with what I'm doing and other events in my life.

BARNARD CASTLE - Bowes Museum

Date: 12th July 2016

My best friend and I met in 1966 when we were both working for Granada Television in Manchester.  I was a Newsreader - Yes - all those years ago and Sue was a Production Assistant.  We were staying in a B & B - Mrs. Hoey's establishment I seem to recall.  We decided we'd get a place to rent together and that was one of Pat Phoenix's little workmen's cottages at Sale.

 

We've remained friends and are Godparents to each other's children.  Sue doesn't tend to travel much anymore and like so many, because she isn't regularly using motorways and doing long journeys, she goes far afield less and less. However, when I go to visit and am very happy to do the driving we go off adventuring.  On this occasion Sue said it would be fun to visit Barnard Castle which was jam packed with Antique shops!  When we arrived (and there was nowhere to park) we noticed a dearth of the latter and in fact didn't actually see one - Ebay has a lot to answer for!  Mind you, on asking Sue when she last visited - it was 20 years ago!  Fortunately she had heard of the Bowes Museum so our visit was not in vain.  And what a treat was in store for us.  The large mansion was built with the sole purpose of being a Museum - it was never a family home.  The couple who were the benefactors were John Bowes and his French wife.  Unable to have a family they dedicated their time, money and passion to this musuem.  And there is something for everyone - something to suit the taste of virtually every visitor - from portraits to silver, from ceramics to furniture and an area which houses visiting exhibitions. At the time of our visit it was a display of shoes from around the world and across the centuries - all beautifully laid out though the explanatory writings were a trifle confusing in their order and not that easy to read because of the crowds.  

The logo for the Bowes museum is a Silver Swan and that's because they have a very large silver swan Automaton.  We were told that it would be active at 2.00 pm and both of us got so carried away we forgot to go and view it.  Thank goodness there is a video which shows this amazing piece of invention - the swan is on a fast flowing river containing fish, one of which the swan picks up in its mouth, swallows and digests.  I've never seen anything like it before.

I was staggered to see two Caravaggios, a Constable, Sargant and some pre-Raphaelite works.  

The little cafe was delightful and though we didn't partake of the lunch, the food looked extremely tasty.

We'd had a lovely day which rapidly turned into a mini nightmare because of the traffic.  We'd hardly left the musuem than we were in a bumper to bumper 6 mile long queue to Scotch Corner.  Sue suggested we turned off towards Richmond, Rippon and home that way to Barwick.  I forgot that Sue doesn't really drive much any more and although the road was very attractive we were up hill and down dale (literally) on a very very very long short cut.  After 2 hours I suggested we stopped and had a meal because our ETA at home would have meant eating very late.  But we struck lucky.  We had reached West Tanfield near Ripon.  The Bull Inn appealed because it was by the river but they were expecting a party of 20 and it meant a long wait for service.  The manageress kindly rang the Bruce Arms just up the road and off we went.  I don't think I've ever had such a delicious Trout - it was superb cooked en pappilote and with a salad drenched in one of the most delicious dressings - and I'm no mean slouch when it comes to Salad dressings.

In September, I have to attend an Allied Air Forces Memorial Service near York and as Sue's house is going to be full, I might well book a bed at the Bruce Arms.

Just put together all my 'photos' for the Just You talk at Olympia on Saturday - so now must rehearse and ensure that it is the right length and will leave time for Q & A.  

Bye for now,  Jan

THE BOWES MUSEUM

BARNARD CASTLE - Bowes Museum

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