This week the 5.30 pm sky turned from black to dark blue, which meant that when I walked home I didn't need a torch to work out if it was a pheasant or a mass murderer running ahead of me on the track (it was a pheasant).
But to be honest, when I wasn't at work, it was still pretty dark, pretty much all the time.
Luckily this weekend, I stayed up at Waddesdon, and despite terrible weather warnings the sun actually shone.
My friend Claire was visiting, and I was so doubtful of it staying nice that I actually took this picture, to prove to her that the sky had once been blue.
|Over there it's actually sunny|
Claire has temporarily moved from Paris to London, where she is working at a major auction house. She hadn't packed for England with a weekend in the countryside in mind, and was concerned her outfit wasn't weather-proof enough.
|Her boots were inappropriately nice|
Our first stop was the aviary. Commissioned by Ferdinand Rothschild before 1889, it is in the style of a French or German C18th garden pavilion. Think a modern (mini) menagerie at Versailles.
Having fallen into disrepair after WW2, it was restored in 2003, and is now the sight of a variety of breeding projects for rare birds, including the Rothschild Mynah, named after Ferdinand's eccentric nephew Walter.
The gardens have once again opened to the public, and so on arrival we were accosted by a three-year-old girl, who had wanted to take a picture of the puddle we were so rudely standing in.
|Puddle features bottom left|
|I decided to dress as a robber|
The birds knew Ferdinand's voice, and apparently used to wander over to the bars when he visited, hoping for food and affection. Claire tried this tactic to tempt them to pose.
|Spot the golden urns|
Hint: they aren't Claire
A love of exotic birds inspired many of the objects in the Waddesdon collection, notably the vibrant Razumovsky Service. There are also some excellent parrot over-mirrors. The influence of C18th chinoiserie is prevalent throughout the house, sweeping downward lines; exotic animals. Walter Rothschild even rode in a zebra carriage.
Claire is an artist, and did some slightly more subdued sketches of the illusive birds. I tried to get some pictures, but they were all bars and flashes of blue. Bluddy iPhone.
|She's really good.|
Claire is not only an artist. She's also a French person. We briefly visited the (finally open) gift shop, where I attempted to out-do her on this front.
|This is definitely fine, and politically correct|
Then we went to the pub for dinner. C'est la vie, oui?