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Saturday, 23 August 2014

Waddesdon Manor's Roman Weekend part 2 - The Lod Roman Mosaic and The Falconry display

I thought I should start my second blog with the Falconry display and keep the day in order of the way I experienced it. I have been very lucky to see two Falconry displays in the last couple of weeks and both very different from each other. The first was run by all males at National Trust's Charlecote Park . The second at Waddesdon Manor last weekend was by all females in period costume to match in with the theme of the Weekend, the Roman times. Here is the link to their webpage.

I have to start with the beautiful Eagle Owl called 'Pharaoh' She was stunning. I have already mentioned the Eagle Owl in my last Charlecote Park blog which I will link to so I won't repeat myself for those who read many of my blogs. This Owl was smaller than the previous one I saw but also a lot younger. Her feathers are also lighter in colour and just as beautiful.

I call this next photo 'The Owl in the frilly skirt'

Look at those beautiful puffed up feathers. 

The next photo is of a Northern Goshawk called Pandora.

The Goshawk is native to most of Europe. They tend to prefer wooded area so woodlands and forests are the best places to spot them. They are a large bird, the female being the largest.

These amazing birds can move very quickly so once they have spotted their prey, they will normally catch it. This is another bird that mates for life and will not breed in close proximity to another pair of Goshawks.

              This bird of prey in the photo below is Khan the Saker Falcon.

The Saker Falcon  is another large bird and native to Eastern Europe and across to Asia. It prefers open land to hunt on and like all Falcons, they don't build their own nests. They prefer to steal other larger birds nests and lay on average 4 eggs. 

They are the most endangered of all falcons due to illegal collectors of eggs. It would be such a shame if we lost such a beautiful creature for future generations.

The next bird is a new one to me. I have never seen one of these before and what a magical bird it was.
I had to do a little research on this one . It is a 'Bateleur Eagle' and native to Africa. This bird has quite a piercing stare and watched me the full time I was near the birds. With the dark eyes it was a little intimidating.

The Bateleur Eagle has a very short tail so tends to glide with the wind in a swaying motion . 'Bateleur' is French for a street performer and it is thought that this bird was named after the tightrope walkers who swayed as they walked. These birds are hunters as well as scavengers. When they are younger they are brown and darken with age. They lay only one egg which is very different from other birds.

This beautiful bird which is so dark in colour has the whitest of white under-wings.

I also got to see the Bateleur Eagle fly which was excellent.

Another amazing bird and well worth seeing.

The Harris Hawk which I also covered in my previous blog.

Everyone's favourite, The Barn Owl.

A well earned snack!

For some close up images of the Barn Owl ,check out my previous blog.

Next we have the hooded Vulture which I had not seen fly before and WOW, it was amazing and I managed to get a few photos of it in action.

I had to add all those action shots as it showed the Vulture flying then coming into land and I could not pick which ones to use.
A couple more photos from the Falconry display which was run by some lovely ladies.

The Lanner Falcon.

After watching the Falconry display I headed over to the Roman stalls to see what was going on there. I found a Roman type 'Fast food' tent  ( Their words not mine ) cooking all sorts of things for people to try.

There were also metal workers making all sorts of things including coins.

This man was making old English coins that would have been around in the time of the Romans.

The clay mould.

The heavy items used to stamp the coins.

Old style coin bags.

There were so many things for children to do with lots of art and craft items and also pottery making. It made me wish my children were younger to be able to do all this again.

Old Roman games. Not that old that I don't recognise them.

One last stop before heading down the hill to see the Lod Mosiac. A quick walk around to the back of Waddesdon Manor to see the colour of the garden. Last time I came it was all pinks and purples. This time it was yellow but what really caught my eye was the beautiful mosaic I found in the bedding which was based on the 'Predators and Prey' mosaic on view in the stables at the moment at Waddesdon Manor.

It was really nicely done and made all out of plants.

 You will appropriate this even more when you see the real mosaic.

I had not been to the stables before so this was something new for me but I often think when visiting National Trust properties that you have to take your time taking everything in. If you rush to see everything, you can not enjoy it so much. There is an old Czech saying that if you leave something behind when visiting friends or family, you will visit again. I have a similar view on missing something out at these amazing properties, I have to come back one day. I like taking my time exploring these places and  also having something new to see. When I had walked past the Stables before to the old garden centre, I had used the little road that runs down the hill but this time I decided to take the walk through the woods. I have to say it was brilliant. I knew there was a children's play area in there somewhere but I did not expect what I saw. The adventure play area twisted through the wood and down the hill at all different levels, very much like the path did. I loved the way they did not clear one big area of the wood and flatten it but used the wood and the hill to keep it as natural as possible. I am sorry I have no photos as it was so busy with other people's children. My children would have loved this sort of thing when they were younger. By the way you can take the shuttle bus from the house to the stables but it is all downhill from the house anyway.
The stables were not what I thought they would be but I like the unexpected sometimes. There is another cafe there which is less informal than the restaurant within the house and more like other National Trust Restaurants you find at most properties. I like the way you have a few different options for eating and drinking at the Manor. It gives you a nice choice. I didn't have time to stop this time but I will remembered it for my next visit. For a link on the different places to eat, click on this link or there is always a picnic. Inside the court were also many people's favourite, a sweet and toy shop ideally placed close to the children's play area I noticed :) Well I am sure they have burned enough energy off to have a little treat :)

Now last but not least, The 'Predators and Prey' Roman mosaic that was uncovered in Lod in Israel in 1996 when it was accidentally found while doing road works.

It is one of a set of mosaics which were discovered a metre underground and preserved beautifully. They have laid there for around 1,700 years. That is an amazing thought. It makes you wonder what else lays beneath our feet waiting to be discovered. I can't believe that there is only one damaged section after all this time. As an artist myself, I am very tempted to fill in. Maybe I will print it off and do it that way to see what it would have looked like complete.

To see this Roman mosaic in more detail, click on the images to enlarge or you can go and see it for yourself. Well worth the trip.

Look at the detail in the picture below. This mosaic must have taken ages to make and by very skilled people. Such tiny bits all put together to make this picture.

It really is astounding, the detail in this mosaic, and I really was amazed by the condition of it.

This would have been part of a Roman villa floor, what we know today as a reception room. The walls of the villa had collapsed protecting the mosaic for so many years but they could have easily damaged it also.
Even though the mosaic was found in 1996, it was not until 2009 work could go on to clear the area and lift the collection of mosaics found there as funds had to be raised to do this. This mosaic has travelled the World for people to see but will return home to Lod just outside Tel Aviv to be displayed in a purpose-built museum there.


  For more on this amazing find here is a link to Waddesdon Manor's page.

I hope you enjoyed my second blog on the Roman Weekend at Waddesdon Manor. I really enjoyed my visit and the both displays were brilliant.
Here is a link to the first blog on the Roman Soldiers incase you missed it.

Copyright of Jana Eastwood

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