May Festivities

With the arrival of May, Spring was highly anticipated.  Well, much like the Pacific Northwest, Spring tends to play a game of hide and seek over here.  Mostly hiding.  Since we went West to Chester the weather has returned to cool, wet, and windy.  Occasionally a day will perk up and everyone will feel the heat of the sun, but nothing really permanent yet.

But, May does have other surprises for me. At school our Maypole event was a big focus the past two weeks, culminating at the Waltham Village Fete.  Our school owns not one, but TWO maypoles! One for practicing on at school, and one for the Maypole Dancing, which this year was held at the Village Hall as part of the Village Fete.  So, all the classrooms had to practise maypole dances for about two weeks in preparation for the final event.  The two older grades also got to practise Morris Dances, and a couple Morris Men (?) came to our school to lend their hand with live music and coaching.

Ribbons 'round the maypole.

Ribbons ’round the maypole.

Janet, Kate, and Kaye sorting out the ribbons for the 'real' maypole.

Janet, Kate, and Kaye sorting out the ribbons for the ‘real’ maypole.

At our last school practise I, of course, was snapping pictures away documenting this for myself, much to the chagrin of my staff.  Yes I did help, but also wanted to make sure I had some good photos too!

Bouquet of flowers that are attached to the top of the maypole.

Bouquet of flowers that are attached to the top of the maypole.

The Morris Men, who provided music and coaching on the dances.  They were fun to talk with.

The Morris Men, who provided music and coaching on the dances. They were fun to talk with.

This is my class dancing at the Fete.  Fulbright, as well as my Headteacher, ask that us Fulbrighters do not post photos of children's faces.  I feel that this photo is just far enough away to not create any problems.  It is hard to take a photo of the Maypole without taking photos of the kids.  That is my Head looking on with approval.

This is my class dancing at the Fete. Fulbright, as well as my Headteacher, ask that us Fulbrighters do not post photos of children’s faces. I feel that this photo is just far enough away to not create any problems. It is hard to take a photo of the Maypole without taking photos of the kids. That is my Head looking on with approval. If you look closely you will see that I am wearing my Winter hat.  No, it was not a fashion statement!

Hardwick Hall

All our weekends are busy these days.  A couple Saturdays ago we drove up to Derbyshire to see Hardwick Hall, built in the 1500s.  There are actually two halls, one in ruins and one still standing.  We are members of National Trust, which manages hundreds of historic sites across the country.  Hardwick is co-managed with English Heritage, which manages mostly old castles and ruins.  Being members gets us in to all the places for free once we joined, and the price of two visits to two places for our family equals the membership.  We have been to many of their sites and really like how they preserve and present English history.

http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/hardwick/

Old ruins of Hardwick Hall.

Old ruins of Hardwick Hall.

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Hardwick is a Manor House: huge, opulent, cold, majestic.

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This is the Grand Room, which ran the entire length of the building itself.  It takes a lot to surprise me these days, but this room certainly did.  It was originally designed as a portrait and tapestry gallery to show off Bess Harwick's collection of expensive art.  The room has not changed much and houses many of the original pieces she collected when she was living here.

This is the Grand Room, which ran the entire length of the building itself. It takes a lot to surprise me these days, but this room certainly did. It was originally designed as a portrait and tapestry gallery to show off Bess Harwick’s collection of expensive art. The room has not changed much and houses many of the original pieces she collected when she was living here.

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Inside of of the many fireplaces.  Old Hardwick Hall.

Inside of of the many fireplaces. Old Hardwick Hall.

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Signs of Spring.

Signs of Spring.

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“God and my right shall me defend”

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