Monday, 29 May 2017

And then there were three.....

The three weeks Butterfly and I spent in Small Worlds before Easter (it seems a long time ago now) were packed with activity.   You have already seen what she and I were up to - the Easter window that was down to me, and the very much more creative undertaking that Butterfly was engaged in.
We were joined in our second week there by Andrea, an old friend and avid follower of this blog.   Her below the line comments have frequently sparked off new ideas for Small Worlds and since I know her delight in telling stories, I decided to invite her to let her imagination loose on the next house awaiting "dressing" to use a theatrical term...
 After all, I had the perfect items just waiting for their ideal home!  

And then I thought why not let her write the best part of the blog too?

So, with great pleasure,  it's over to Andrea.....

Something happens to me when I look at dolls’ houses (yes I know there is much disagreement about how to set out that phrase, but that’s the one I use). I’m sure it happens to you as well, but how to describe it? A sense of being a child again, certainly, but also a sense of seeing other lives in full. 

A dizzying, Alice-like shrinking so that I am not outside looking in, but sitting at the table drinking tea, or in the kitchen of the Victorian house, hoping for a lick of the bowl when Cook has finished her cake-making.

Or, best of all, in the nursery playing with teeny tiny toys.

In addition to all of that, is the sense that some of the houses are palimpsests of the past lives of previous owners, with ghosts of their hopes and dreams lingering in the rooms.

I have followed Small Worlds online since the beginning, but I had not seen it in person until April this year. It is MAGNIFICENT! 

Cestina gave me the Full Tour, which I enjoyed very much. Seeing all of the hard work put in by Cestina, Butterfly and their many, many talented friends was breathtaking. 

I had scarcely recovered from the excitement of the Tour, when Cestina asked whether I would like to set out a new house. WOULD I? (Yes.)

You will remember that Cestina’s talented daughter-in-law, Laura, made an astonishing range of items, designed to go into the workshop of a dolls’ house maker. You can see them here in their temporary home in England.
It was that treasure trove that I was invited to arrange. Dolls’ house parts within a dolls’ house world. Dizzying doubleshrink.

I had great fun. The dolls’ house maker is called Pepik and I imagine he started out as a carpenter. As I moved things around in his living quarters downstairs, as well as his upstairs showroom and workshop, I got little flashes of his story.

Pepik lives alone and doesn’t seem to mind that his bedroom is the first room that visitors see.
After all, he can fold away his bed, so no-one would ever know! 

Visitors are quickly shown through to the parlour, where they can take tea and nibble delicious snacks prepared by Pepik’s friend from the village, Maria. As you can see, her idea of a snack is reassuringly hearty and will sustain those who have traveled far for an appointment. 

Pepik’s work is known throughout the country and much sought-after. People are so pleased to get a date for a visit, they don’t mind being kept waiting while Pepik finishes his previous consultation upstairs in his showroom. 

Here, people can look at plans and choose fixtures fittings and decorations for their own, unique, house.

The room they never see (although there is a tantalizing glimpse through the archway) is Pepik’s workshop. 

No-one is allowed in here, not even Maria, although she would dearly like to be admitted. I suspect she would dearly like to be admitted to all of Pepik’s life, but as yet he does not seem to have noticed her gentle overtures…

It is fair to say that Pepik is not a tidy worker. He works on several projects at once, to allow drying and thinking time and is never happier than when all the visitors have gone and he is left alone for days at a time to construct his masterpieces. 

What does he think of as he works? Maria would like to think it’s her – perhaps it is, sometimes. But I think he remembers his childhood long ago, watching others playing in streams and laughing, being just that little bit too shy to run and join in. Sitting by himself, he starts to whittle some twigs, making figures jump from the dull wood to take their place in the world.

Thank you Andrea, for so beautifully telling the story of Pepik the Toymaker.  I remember your saying that you were no Lynda, to make tiny items for Small Worlds. But story-telling is yet another skill that makes Small Worlds magic and you have given me many ideas in the past four years.

There will be another house when you come again!

I am now getting ready to set off to the Czech Republic.  Small Worlds will open for the summer season on Saturday 17th June and I hope that the first blog post of the new season will appear shortly after that.   

Thank you for visiting the Small Worlds blog - it would be lovely to see some more of you there in real life one day.

Saturday, 22 April 2017

'O brave new world, That has such people in't.....'

This mini-post is but a signpost to something very much longer.....the saga of Butterfly's labours in Small Worlds recently.
We were in Bavorov for almost three weeks and 'thereby hangs a tale', one which I shall leave you to find by visiting Words and Pictures and revelling in the good company. Enjoy!

And Butterfly - once again
'I can no other answer make but thanks, 
And thanks; and ever thanks'

Friday, 14 April 2017

Veselé Velikonoce - Happy Easter!

It's Good Friday, known as Velký pátek - Big Friday -here in the Czech Republic, and Butterfly and I are on the verge of reluctantly leaving the haven of Small Worlds and heading back to the UK.

We have had a lovely almost 3 weeks here and much good work has been done in the museum and Stables, especially by Butterfly, although she did balk at working her magic in the bright orange room, and took up residence in Small Worlds itself since we were not open to the public, except for one morning to coincide with the Easter Market.  There will be more to see of what we have been up to in forthcoming blogs.

It was a delight to welcome our friend Andrea for a few days.   It was the first time she had seen Small Worlds, although she follows it avidly on the blog.  Her reaction was all we could have hoped for and she was able to indulge her delight in story-telling as she set up a new scenario in one of the houses.
Today however is a picture-rich post just to wish you all a Happy Easter.   Easter is a much loved festival here in the Czech Republic, more so even than Christmas perhaps, and so it was no surprise when a friend urged me to create an Easter window display.

I hesitated to agree because I didn't think I had much to do it with.  We went round the house gathering up useful things but in the end the Stables came up trumps and I found I had far more than I had supposed.

It was just a question of melding things into one window scenario.  Well, two actually because there is a small window as well that I like to fill separately.

This autumnal scene ...

...turned springlike

Autumn fruits ......

....became Easter eggs 

Goosey, goosey gander was brought back to life after many years in the wilderness of storage....

....and given some more friends

and many assorted ducks, geese, chickens, rabbits and frogs were hauled out of retirement.

The rabbits were given a desirable home 

The ducks now rejoice in a crystal blue pond 

and the collection of Eggheads are enjoying their various occupations...

... in the peace and quiet of a Czech pine forest -

 - including being newly born!

Once again it has proved impossible to photograph the window when everything is in place - too many reflections from outside, including me, the camera, and the cars and building opposite! 

So I leave you with some photos taken before the display was put in position. This is what went into the smaller window. 

It was supplemented with a vase full of willow twigs bearing Easter eggs - see what I mean about the reflections?

And from this final photo you can just see the layout of what went into the window - apologies that this time the camera person (me) was not operating at her best!   

Nevertheless, this post comes with all good wishes for a very happy and peaceful Easter holiday.  See you again soon.....

Sunday, 26 February 2017

A very modern view of Victoriana.....

At Christmas we had a peek into the Victorian world of the Walmer dollshouse.   Now it is time to take a look at that same era in a very different sort of house.

Our family has been collecting Playmobil, aka Playpeople, more or less since it appeared on the market in the mid-1970s.   We first met it in Germany and started off with the knights and Native Americans - and really we have never stopped collecting it.

We ended, some forty years on, with a whole town layout which occupied the spare room in our previous house.   This is now all sadly packed away, waiting for the next generation of children in the family to enjoy it as my children and grandchildren have done.

But there is still one item on display and that is the Playmobil Victorian House which my granddaughter has kindly allowed Small Worlds to borrow on a long loan.  

Each house in Small Worlds has a detailed description next to it in both English.....

.....and of course Czech - my thanks to Jana in Prague for her flawless translations.

The house has already made a brief appearance in a post about the Town Room three years ago but now that it is in Small Worlds I thought it deserved a little more attention.

Despite being the only house in the museum made entirely of plastic it has fitted in beautifully.  The detail is both astonishing and delightful.

On the front steps we have Mr and Mrs Bellamy arriving home from a shopping expedition...

....whilst on the balcony above their heads the resident peacock spreads his wings in the sunshine.
Nanny is making sure that the Bellamy baby is also getting his fair share of Vitamin D on the other balcony.
Meanwhile, on the somewhat inaccessible roof garden, Mr Cook the Gardener is tending his roses.   
We are not quite sure who the blonde female is - she stops by periodically to receive a red rose from him.

Inside there are 8 rooms including a conservatory.

At the top of the house is the nursery - in tune with the Victorian belief that the children should be kept as far away as possible from Papa, in order not to disturb him.   But this suits Ellie and Georgie very well since they have no more wish to be disturbed by him than vice versa.

Clearly, however, no one is very worried about disturbing Grandpapa since he is on the floor immediately below the children.  

He does not complain though - he is just very happy that he has the bathroom right next door to him!

Mr and Mrs Bellamy's bedroom is below Grandpapa's - they can often hear him snoring, in chorus with his beautiful Bernese Mountain Dog.

Rather unusually, the laundry, staffed by the cheerful Daisy, is right next to the master bedroom.  

Handy for gathering up the sheets and towels for the weekly wash.

In any Victorian household, one of the most important rooms is, of course, the kitchen so we have a number of pictures of it.

Cook is very busy at the stove undisturbed by the presence of her children...

...the red-haired Jill....
...and little Jack.   The Bellamys are kind employers and allow the children to visit Cook frequently. 
And finally we have the elegant drawing room with Molly the maid ready to serve the Bellamys their afternoon tea as soon as they shed their coats.

The Walmer house stands directly opposite this one - I wonder whether sometimes, at dead of night, the two Victorian families visit each other?   I do hope so.....

Butterfly and I are heading to Small Worlds and the Stables at the end of March where we intend to play to our hearts' content.   

We will be joined for some of the time by Andrea Small.  Those of you who have followed my blog from the beginning will know that she has been one of the most faithful commentators, continually coming up with challenging ideas, some of which I have attempted to realise.  This will be her first visit to Small Worlds, and I am both much looking forward to welcoming her there, whilst at the same time dreading what further challenges her fertile imagination may produce.....

Watch this space to find out in the months to come! 

Thank you for following and see you soon.