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Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Packwood House Follies

As anyone who follows my blog is aware, I volunteer for the National Trust at Charlecote Park which I absolutely love. I was surprised and very honoured to be asked if I would like to join the official opening of the 'Packwood Follies' and take a few photos for Packwood House. Of course I jumped at the opportunity being very excited and rather chuffed to be asked. Planning ahead, I even went over to Packwood House on the Wednesday before to have a little pre-look. What a beautiful day it was too, the sun was shining and the sky was a beautiful blue. Perfect.

Here is the link to the blog from that day.

Now come the Saturday and the opening of the Packwood Follies and what did it do but pour down with rain! I could not believe it after all that lovely weather we had had. I thought the one time I go somewhere else to take photos and it rains. I was dreading it in a way, I thought it would be a washout but it could not have been further from the truth. Wellington boots on and umbrellas up, nothing was going to ruin this day and it didn't.

The day started off perfectly with National Trust's answer to everything, a slice of cake! Cake always makes everything better :) On offer that day in Packwood's Garden Kitchen Cafe was a beautiful chocolate and mint cake, mixed nut cake and lavender shortbread. What a choice to make!

After we had had a drink... and cake of course, all those invited to the opening headed over to the hall in Packwood House for a welcome talk by both Lucy Reid who manages three properties on behalf of the National Trust, (Packwood House being one of them) and  Artist and creator of the Packwood Follies Hilary Jack.

It was an interesting talk, explaining how it all began and how this Packwood motto 'A House to dream of...a garden to dream in' influenced the creation of these beautiful pieces of art.

What better motto could we start with than that which inspired Hilary Jack to make this dreamy giant bed named 'Embedded' which has been hand carved from felled oak. Influenced by the four poster beds within Packwood House itself and this quote which was left by a visitor visiting Packwood House in the 1960's, is how the idea for this bed began.

I can imagine, on a dry day of course, laying down on the grass inside the bed, looking up at the sky on a warm sunny day, dreaming of being anywhere I wanted to be. Maybe it is magical like the bed in 'Bedknobs and Broomsticks' and can take you anywhere you wish to go.

Hilary gave a little talk about this beautiful bed and then left everyone to explore it for themselves.

The plans for the day which included poet Jo Bell and story teller Gavin Young to join in the celebrations of the day by reading  poems and telling stories from the bed and by the cabin in the woods. This they both still did before moving on to the next creation. A true artist never minds a little rain :)

                                               Exploring the bed ( Embedded)

 The rain did not dampen anyone's spirit that day and everyone seemed really happy to be there even with the rain.

The lovely Abi who I was taking photos for that day, always with a smile on her face. It was a real pleasure to spend the day with her.

Poet Jo Bell was also always smiling. To be honest all staff, volunteers and guests were in a very good mood and it was a nice group of people to spend time with. It made a wet day very enjoyable.

The beautiful view of Packwood as you stand on the bed. The idea with this bed as with the cabin is to explore them yourself and have fun while doing this. Let your imagination do the rest.

You could be a princess looking down on your kingdom watching the wildlife on the lake. 

Or it could be your stage to put on a play for your audience. Yes, it is a beautiful giant four poster bed but it lends itself to so much more. Click on the image below to enlarge it for more detail on the carvings.

Now if you fancy a walk in the woods, you will find another one of Hilary's creations the 'Insideouthouse' which allows for so much play and for your imagination to run away with you. Built from recycled Tudor reproduction furniture, this house has so much to investigate. As I said in my previous blog... 'The more you look the more you see'. It amazes me how many different parts of furniture have been used to make this house from chairs, tables, dressers,the list goes on. It is a beautiful creation that reminds me and many others of what 'Hansel and Gretel' house might look like. The village in which my father's family come from near the Bohemian National Park is full of little 'Hansel and Gretel' houses. It is a beautiful village which I hope to go back to one day soon. This house you could dream in and don't be fooled by it's size, it is one of those special buildings that look bigger on the inside - an added surprise.

Hilary introducing the  'Insideouthouse'

She was also more than happy to answer anyone's questions. A lovely lady and a pleasure to meet.

Hilary welcoming everyone to look around the cabin.

These umbrellas really brighten up the pictures on such a wet day.

Hillary's face was a picture watching everyone enjoying the 'Insideouthouse'. One happy lady :)

After a poem from the lovely Jo Bell, we moved on to the next Follies.

Hilary had also designed and built three hive follies which she spoke about but this time, she was not going to show us where they were. She wanted us to have fun discovering them for ourselves.

We all set off looking between these lovely yew trees that stand so tall and proud. We even went up to the maze at the top of the garden looking for the hives. Everyone had fun trying to find them. The rain really did nothing to dampen the day at all.

We found them and they were well worth looking for. They really are lovely pieces of art and Hilary is hoping that sometime in the future, wildlife will make homes of them. A bit of a luxury home I think. :)
All the Follies, the 'Insideouthouse, 'Embedded' and the 'Hives' were sponsored by 'Cadbury's play grant'. 

It was a fun morning exploring the Follies in Packwood gardens and woods and everyone seemed to enjoy it.

We all headed back to the Kitchen Garden Cafe to dry off a little and have another hot drink and a bite to eat. We talked about the morning we had had. The day was not over yet. There were a lot more laughs to come.

 Poet Jo Bell and story teller Gavin Young were excellent together. Whoever picked these two people did a good job as they worked so well together and complemented each other very well. You would think they had worked together on a regular basis but they had not. Maybe in the future they might? I really like Jo and Gavin, they were so down to earth and just took everything as it came, adapting their poems and stories to the audience entering the Great Hall and it all worked really well. I watched the peoples faces as they listened to the poems, taking everything in and laughing at the endings. Their faces listening to the stories told by Gavin were a picture. It was like they had all been transported back in time to when they were children, listening to their parents read stories at bedtime, too afraid to breathe or make a noise for fear of missing something. Only these were not children listening, they were full grown adults, myself included, loving every minute of it. These two can really entertain and people just had to stop to listen.

Poet Jo Bell  is what is called a 'Poet Practitioner' which is someone who works in poetry from writing, teaching to performing. For many years she directed the UK's National Poetry day which, if you have children at school, you will probably know about. The Canal and River Trust and the National Trust are just two of the many commissions she has had and has been nominated for awards and has also won awards for the work she does.
Jo believes and I quote her very words 'Poetry should be heard as well as seen' and how true that is. Having one book already published called 'Navigation' and a second coming soon, I look forward to seeing her again sometime in the future. I really enjoyed her readings. For more about Jo, here is a link to her blog

Gavin Young is a performer, writer and story teller and doesn't he know how to tell stories for adults and children alike! You are never too old to listen to a story. One thing he did not put on his list of what he can do, is sing. He has a beautiful voice and I would have loved to hear more of it. Gavin is a lovely gentleman who knows how to capture his audience and knows how to really tell a story. I have listened to storytellers before but none have ever made me stop and listen like he has.

Gavin had brought a box of hats which some people had fun trying on. :)

And last but not least. Mentioning no names at all. When an umbrella goes wrong on a very wet day :)

I hope you have enjoyed my blog on the opening of the Packwood Follies. It is a light hearted blog for a light hearted day. A lovely day with lovely people. Thank you so much for reading it. Below are a few links you may be interested in.

A link to Packwood Follies

A link to Hilary Jacks page

Also two links from two lovely ladies who also attended the follies opening and have written their own blogs.
Firstly, Susan Guy who I have met a couple of times before The first time at the opening of the 'Kitchen Garden cafe'. It was lovely to see her again.
Susan's blog of which there are three on the Follies is here

Secondly, the lovely Jessie who tweets as 'Positively Packwood'  @VolunteerJessie and who it was a real pleasure to meet after chatting over Twitter. it is always nice to put faces to people.  The link to her lovely blog is here..

                        Photos Copyright Jana Eastwood

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