On Friday we headed out to Blackwell, a fascinating house near the shores of Lake Windermere. It's a combination of Arts-and-Crafts and Art Noveau, intelligently restored and opened to the public in 2001. The main hall is particularly interesting, affecting the air of a medieval hall with its panelling (some of it reclaimed from period churches), but also with rather abstract and modernist patterns above some of the fireplaces. We ventured into Kendal in the afternoon, and, always keen to try the local tipple, I picked up a bottle of damson gin - and initially it seems promising, quite similar to sloe gin but with a lighter and subtly different flavour.
We had a relaxed day on Saturday, again enjoying good weather and taking a stroll in the afternoon. I suppose if the rest of the country is enduring bank holiday downpours, the weather would be good in the Lake District.
Having booked ultra-cheap tickets with fixed train times, I had indulged myself in returning first class. I'm not sure it was really worth it, though things did look quite grim in standard class, particularly when the reservations computer failed en route, and as the line from Birmingham to Euston was closed, it was overcrowded throughout until Leamington.
On Monday, kharin and I headed in to London to see the New World exhibition at the British Museum. The museum as a whole was rather busy, no doubt with holiday makers and parents desperately filling a wet holiday with something to do indoors. The exhibition wasn't too busy, though, and had some interesting bits and pieces. As well as paintings of the indigenous people, flora and fauna of North America (and other exotic races such as Turks and Ancient Britons, to whom the Indians were to be compared for their friendliness and civility), there were some historic maps and scientific (navigational) instruments. Intriguingly, the main purpose of the paintings was almost as a prospectus for those looking to emigrate, with Britain merging power politics and commerce as it did throughout the time of empire. It's worth noting, too, that visitors to this exhibition can pre-book (in person) for The First Emperor - China's Terracotta Army exhibition later in the year at a discount, so we have done that.