For the second time this week a visit for Frances to Plymouth Hospital. I had a visit too, sandwiched in-between hers – to Liskeard Hospital. A worrying time today’s, but a terrific result. A suspicious small lump on the breast was diagnosed as a cyst by the Greek specialist and removed immediately, sucked out, with the minimum of fuss. We await the results of our other visits! Such it is to be retired…….I do dislike going to Derriford Hospital at Plymouth – you have to admit it looks like the Brutalist architecture of Moscow in the Fifties. Once inside it’s a bit friendlier. Good job really. After that we needed fresh air, so off we went to the NT house at Saltram which we were totally unsure we had visited before (despite living very near here in the Seventies). This was our first glimpse of the beautiful Georgian house, and no we hadn’t been before. First stop as nearly always was the cafe for lunch. No beer, only cider, and a menu which was disgustingly full of fat….there were hardly any nice healthy eating options. I had to have the soup, and F. a pork pie which was very dry. Very poor fare.We then toured the house which was very interesting and cool enough (it was 30 degrees outside). The hall was Adamesque ( and indeed Robert Adam had a very influential input at Saltram for the Parker family who transformed what was a Tudor building into a magnificent Georgian house).and I did like the ‘Tenants Table’ where were stored the records for each tenant. I am sure it must be in its correct place in the entrance hallway. Wouldn’t want tenants coming too far into the interior!The house is stuffed with valuable original pieces but it is disconcerting that this bust of Cicero for instance is labelled Roman…is it original or not?! Anyhow, full of character. What we loved were the walls cram bang full of paintings just as the owners would originally liked to have displayed them in order to show off their wealth…..You don’t often see this (you do at the RA’s Summer Exhibition ironically enough).This card table was set with intaglio cards, gaming chips, and a letter…marvellous!The inner courtyard had orange bins…very appropriate in this weather……and after that we passed into the core of the house which still retained its Tudor kitchen, with original and more up-to-date features…brass and copper are so evocative, are they not?Now here’s a picture with a story, it’s of Theresa Parker who, with her husband John, brought most of the valuable contents to Saltram. And it’s by Sir Joshua Reynolds. Reynolds was born only four miles from Saltram in Plympton, Devon. His first studio was in Dock (modern day Devonport, Plymouth) but as his popularity grew, he quickly moved to London to meet the demands of those who wanted their ‘likeness’ made by him. By1768, Reynolds had established himself as the leading portrait painter of his time and became the founding president of the Royal Academy. Reynolds was good friends with John and Theresa Parker and they met often both for business and on social occasions. In 1770 he began painting this full-length portrait of Theresa in a landscape. When it was still not complete two years later, Theresa joked that Reynolds was ‘very lazy’. She sat for him at least two more times in 1772 whilst heavily pregnant. There are many Reynolds paintings at Saltram as well as many by Angelica Kauffman, and here is her self-portrait…..“Reynolds was not the only Academician to be patronised by the Parkers. Angelica Kauffman painted numerous portraits and history paintings for the interiors at Saltram. Like Reynolds, Kauffman was a founder member of the Royal Academy, but along with painter Mary Moser, shewas one of only two female members. Kauffman was born in Switzerland and rose to fame as an accomplished painter in Europe before even moving to London in 1766. Here, her work was so popular that by 1781 the Danish Ambassador wrote that the whole world was ‘Angelica mad.’ Despite being hugely famous, she was still a minority in the male-dominated art world. Kauffman was left in social and financial difficulty after a disastrous first marriage but it was through her talent and determination, along with the support of Queen Charlotte and patrons like the Parkers of Saltram, that she was able to continue working.” In the portrait (which NT want to restore, and for which we bought raffle tickets to help), it seems absurdly apparent that the right hand has been re-painted by someone else at a later stage – and someone who was not very good at painting hands! Have you ever seen such an awful hand? And compare its butcher’s fingers with the delicate digits of the left hand………On the stairs, Reynolds by Kauffman…nice and relaxed, it seems obvious they are good friends.But there are many paintings to catch the eye…the Victorian mother and child captures that couple superbly.And so to bed…well the bedrooms, nearly all in Chinoiserie style, obviously well-regarded at the period, certainly not to my taste. Much of it imported through the East Indian Company. These individually painted wall panels are rather good.The last room on the tour however undoubtedly the best – the Library. Beautiful room, lovely books, lots of places to sit, not just to work – wonderful.A quick walk past some pretty borders to the Orangery was all we had time for.Yet another eventful day in the life of the Smiths….. and, before I forget, the day before we had popped into Looe on the bus to do our usual walk and greatly admired the amazing conversion of the old Sardine Factory….we went into the downstairs cafe….and admired the brand new and very good Heritage Centre, of which more another time…….