I purchased this because something, I don’t know what, made me think of the BBC TV series in the 60’s which starred Nyree Dawn Porter, Eric Porter and Kenneth More amongst others. Everybody but everybody was glued to the TV at peak time on a Saturday evening…all ages, and no-one went for their Saturday night out without seeing it. No catch-up in those days. The book, which is really a trilogy – ‘The Man of Property’, ‘In Chancery’ and ‘To Let’ is joined together by two short stories ‘Indian Summer of a Forsyte’ and ‘Awakening’ . Altogether just under half a million words made this an epic read. And it is of the highest quality. Since he wrote it all in the 30’s Galsworthy has had a pretty poor press with the critics, but the public have ignored that and loved it. In the last decade or two the critics have come round to the public’s view. Interesting! Basically it is about the varying relationships of one very large upper-middle class family in High Victorian and then Edwardian England. As well as extremely good characterisation, and plots which you want to follow to their outcome, the background is fascinating as many of the main themes of Great Britain in those days are explored – from Empire and foreign travel through to politics, the introduction of the motor car and so much else besides. I cannot speak of the novel too highly. And the short story ‘Indian Summer of a Forsyte’ is so memorable a description of what it is to grow old and not be able to do the things you want, and at the same time the anguish that comes from unrequited love that it will stay with you for ever. What a read.
Another day, another nice thing to do. This time a gentle 2 or 3 mile walk along the river from our house to Bucklers Hard. Board walks in some places to avoid getting wet.And brilliant views of what is a very scenic river indeed.At Bucklers Hard itself we enjoyed the Georgian village, once a thriving shipbuilding village where ships for Nelson’s fleet at Trafalgar were built……now, as the blurb says, ‘a tranquil haven’. At the river end of the Buckler’s Hard high street was The Master Builder’s House Hotel where we enjoyed a refreshing drink in the gardens…….We hadn’t been to the seaside yet on this holiday, so off we went in the afternoon to Milford on Sea, a very pleasant location with a good, noisy, shingly beach and a distant view of The Needles. I’m sure all these colourful beach huts will be open on a sunny day……..But we enjoyed ourselves ……….skimming stones amongst other things….and the children’s play area had some unusually good activities…and what nicer at the seaside than to have fish and chips on the promenade?Our cottage being in Beaulieu it would have been ridiculous to have gone home without visiting Palace House and its world-famous car museum. But a stately home, gardens and a car museum for a 5 year old? As it happens, we need not have worried. Aiisha enjoyed the visit as much as anybody, as everywhere there had been a huge attempt made to keep things family-friendly.We went in the car museum first, and not only was it very nostalgic for people who had themselves owned an Austin Healey, a Zephyr, and a Zodiac, and an Austin A35, but it was all incredibly interesting , and there was always something to capture our attention.and didn’t my family look absolutely splendid in Edwardian motoring gear………although the wind can play havoc with the driver’s hat!Over 16 million Model T Fords were manufactured before production ceased in 1927 and interestingly British cars came in blue and green before black became standard in 1914. In the 1920’s grey, red and grey were offered. The first British factory had opened in my home town of Manchester in 1911. The model on show here cost £135 and did 40mph……..Aiisha loved the original Chitty Chitty Bang Bang car (amongst many other things aimed at children)….and would really have loved to have had a go in this Atco junior trainer designed in the 1930’s to give children basic experience of road craft. Everything is as in a full size car but miniaturised with the exception of there being just 2 gears forward and back.Mind you we did find the interactive driving games exciting….and we got to sit on an old bus…………and then after a great lunch have a trip around the grounds in a replica 1912 London bus. It stopped at the house…….. so we decided to get off and have a look around the historic home of the Montagu family, and later at the ruins of the Abbey………..I can’t stress too highly how accessible everything was and how involving. The house, although stuffed with the usual expensive objets and pictures and furniture and so on, was different from any other I have been in, in that not only was photography allowed, but you could touch or get close to virtually everything. Amazing. One surviving building from the Abbey – the Domus – was once the living quarters of the lay brothers………..And in here were displayed a whole series of embroideries designed by Belinda, Lady Montagu which depict the history of the Abbey. They were exquisite.What else did we do? Visit the Top Gear museum where all the old episodes were showing (of the proper Top Gear with Jeremy et al) alongside the actual vehicles featured………good fun.This was followed by a go for all of us on the full-scale simulator – racing round the Dunsfold Park test track in a Caterham and a Bugatti Veyron. Exciting.We then went for a trip on the mile-long monorail, the oldest in England on a sedate tour of the attraction from above, with sweeping views of the grounds and gardens before passing right through the roof of the National Motor Museum to give another take on things.We just had time then to stroll round the gardens, which were lovely…..A really really good time was had by all, and I can’t recommend this place enough. A fantastic week in a lovely house in a lovely part of the country.
On our way home F. and I diverted a short distance to visit the museum of the Tolpuddle Martyrs. Always interesting to see how the downtrodden were able to secure basic rights due to the bravery and persistence of a few heroes. Small but worth visit.