Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Sunnycroft - The Sound Of The Suburbs



We hadn't planned on another National Trust trip until later this week but on discovering that Sunnycroft, the next place on our agenda, was due to close for the season we had to act fast. After yesterday's exploits, a 12.30 Wetherspoons lunch date that resulted in us staggering home at 10pm, getting up bright and early wasn't as easy as it should have been. 


Hard to think that the enchanting approach to Sunnycroft is bang in the middle of a housing estate on the outskirts of bustling town centre, isn't it?


So what is Sunnycroft? It's a rare Victorian suburban villa and mini-estate, small in stature but big on impression, built by the aspiring middle classes of the day to emulate the grandeur of Shropshire's country houses. The rarity is that most houses of this size have long since been carved up by developers or flattened entirely. Sunnycroft is a survivor, bequeathed to the National Trust in 1997 by the last family to live there, The Landers, who bought the house in 1910.


It may seem a bit odd for us to visit a home built in 1879, when our own house is over a hundred and thirty years older, but it wasn't just the architecture we were interested in, it was the stuff inside.


The Landers threw nothing away and so Sunnycroft is home to some eight thousand items, too many to have on display but enough to allow a tantalising peek into how they lived their lives.


Vintage coats and battered leather bags, left from the last time the owners had worn them.


The pantry was roped off as the original linoleum floor was in a very delicate state. I took a fancy to the green glass bowl on the top shelf.






The Landers weren't the first owners of Sunnycroft. It was built for JG Wrackrill, a wealthy local brewer. On his death in 1880 the house was put up for auction and purchased by Mary Jane Slaney, the widow of a wine and spirit merchant, a year later. Its said that she married well, outlived two (much older) husbands and inherited a large amount of money from both them and her well-to-do family. She extended the house in 1899 and became famous for hosting parties, up to three times a week for between 25 to 30 guests at a time. Apparently you were nobody in Shropshire's high society unless you'd been invited to one of Mrs Slaney's parties.


Designed to impress, these Maws & Co. tiles were said to have cost almost £2000 at the time. A staggering amount of money.


 In accordance with the etiquette of the day, Sunnycroft was divided into male and female areas. This was the billiard room, when the gentlemen guests would play with their balls over a glass of something alcoholic and a smoke (nothing changes, does it?)


 The Leg 'o' mutton sleeve belongs to Mrs Slaney (a fabulous guide who dressed and acted the part of the lady of the house brilliantly). Oh, how marvellous! She exclaimed when she saw me, Finally a guest who knows how to dress to impress. One simply must give me the name of ones seamstress when one departs, my dear.


I loved this almost psychedelic Victorian runner on both  the landing and the stairs.  


A gentleman's guest bedroom. 


The cook's bedroom.


The volunteers decided they should keep me in the house as a permanent exhibit. I'd be quite happy to oblige, there's some bostin' charity shops down the road.


The mannequin in the master bedroom gets changed several times a year. This is one of Mrs Slaney's mourning dresses, designed for evening wear. The curtains had to kept drawn to prevent it being damaged by sunlight. The room guide, after admiring my outfit, opened the wardrobe behind me to reveal the contents, it was crammed with Victorian dresses to die for.


In one of the many outbuildings we saw the Lander family's Daimler, purchased at the Earl's Court  Motor Show in 1955 and recently valued at over a million quid. Testament to how cluttered the outbuildings were, the National Trust had owned Sunnycroft for over a year before they discovered it. 

I've had to borrow this image as the car was wrapped up in plastic and didn't photograph very well. SOURCE


WEARING: 1970s Collier Campbell wool maxi dress & matching Marabou feather trim cape (Birthday present from Babouskha Vintage, 2014), Vintage Pakistani velvet & bullion work tote bag (Jumble sale, years ago), Felt hat (Car boot sale)

Sunnycroft, 200 Holyhead Road, Wellington, Near Telford, Shropshire TF1 2DR

That's it for culture this week, I promise. Normal service will be resumed shortly with a return to the usual charity shop tat, drunken exploits and tales of bad behaviour.

See you soon!

80 comments:

  1. Oh my goodness! That linen closet has me ITCHING to pull it all out and launder it into nice neat piles. What a lovely looking home. It made me think of a care home from the approach.
    You look stunning as always.
    Merry Chrimbo to you both. xxx

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    1. You'll have to volunteer then you could fold away to your heart's content!
      Have a fabulous Xmas. xxx

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  2. Ohh Wow , I love this one especially the hallway with the christmas tree xxxx

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    1. The hallway is tremendously grand, isn't it? x

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  3. What a fascinating place. Well worth a visit. You look fabulous, as always. No wonder they wanted to keep you :) xx

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    1. Annie! Lovely to see your comment pop up! xxx

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  4. That's one of the two only problems with the NT, the Winter closing (even though actually it's for the best reasons). The other one is when a property is too popular, but I've noticed people usually start to leave by about 4pm, so that's a good time to enjoy it and take photos. Sunnycroft reminds me of Mr Straw's house. Fascinating. I love you in this amazing outfit with the little fur-trimmed cloak. It's a bit of a favourite. Lovely to see Jon too. Maybe a joint position as Ambassadors for the NT?! Xxxx

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    1. I know, the Winter closing is a bit frustrating. Just when we've got some free time to spend, too. There's some rather good looking gardens open the day after Boxing Day, fingers crossed the weather plays nicely! xxx

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  5. Sunnydale is a lovely looking house, love the mellowness of the brickwork, the octagonal tower, iron filigree work and the tile design above the windows. Thank goodness the Landers had the foresight to leave it to the NT. Sounds like Mrs Slaney had something in common with Baron whatsit from your last post...they both liked a bit of a piss-up. And why not? xxx

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    1. I think I'm attracted to the owners more than I am the property! If they like parties I know I would have liked them. xxx

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  6. Ooh, I could live in a house like that! What an attractive building, and the contents are fascinating. I can well imagine those floor tiles cost a bloody fortune - they're truly wonderful. I agree with Fiona, you seem drawn to the houses of folk who loved a party... no surprise there!

    You did well to be up and out looking completely gorgeous after a marathon 'Spoons session - good girl! That maxi and cape are a delight, of course "Mrs Slaney" and the rest of the volunteers loved you - me too! xxx

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    1. I'd have been quite happy to move in there and then especially as it was right in town so no need to be able to drive, and loads of chazzas on the doorstep! xxx

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  7. This sounds like a perfect day out to me, I love historical homes like this it's so fun to explore. I can't even imagine how much stuff is there given that car was hidden - yikes! "Mrs Slaney" sounds like she was wonderful x

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    1. I know, utter madness! I reckon the American Pickers would have been in their element in the outbuildings! x

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  8. You most certainly don't look like the suburbs! You look lovely as always and fancy getting a matching cape to your dress...the bag is beautiful,too.

    I'm with you; it's not just the architecture but the contents of old houses that fascinate me. I have to say that the linen cupboard was a bit of a mess - no ward sister I ever worked with would ever have tolerated a linen cupboard looking that!

    Glad you had a good evening the evening before and well done you for getting out and about the next day! Isn't the weather dreary? Never mind there's storm on the way that should perk things up a bit!

    xxxx

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    1. The Lander family obviously couldn't get the staff! I was a bit naughty, that linen cupboard was closed but i couldn't resist a peep. At least the medical cupboard was fairly orderly!
      Goodness me, it is grim outside. at least the shortest day is over now. xxx

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  9. That Mary Jane was an enterprising woman wasn't she, gaining a little more each marriage! Wouldn't that have been the best job cleaning out the clutter/treasures- and the Daimler not being discovered for 12 months- that's not exactly a small car is it. Am enjoying your NT Cultural Show thank you xx

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    1. Thanks, JP! Cataloguing the contents of Sunnycroft does sound like a dream job, doesn't it? xxx

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  10. Vix, you look fabulous. That outfit is to die for. What an interesting day out. I would love a good rummage in that place, what a treasure tove it sounds. It looks much grander inside than out. The Victorian dress is gorgeous. Good on Mrs Slaney. She sounds like a woman that knew what she wanted. Love those tiles, 2K would really have been a staggering amount of money, probably about 100 x what one of her maids would have learnt in a year! Thank you for the tour. Xx

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    1. Thanks, Kelly! The dresses in the wardrobe were incredible, one was green and velvet, swoon! xxxx

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  11. Another great NT tour, I really enjoyed it. The houses have such a great feel to them I would love to live in one for a while. It would be such escapism.
    Ordsall Hall in Salford is in the middle of a
    Council house estate and is fabulous but looks so odd stuck there.
    Holker Hall in Cumbria is a favourite of ours. We once pretended to be the lord and lady of the manor posing in front of the great fireplace. We used the photo as a Christmas card one year 😂 Xxx

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    1. Those two NT properties sound like two more for the list!
      Being a non-drover Sunnycroft would be my kind of house. I need to be within walking distance of a shop and a pub! xxx

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  12. Wow, I have to visit Sunnycroft, it looks so homely (in a grand kind of way). Love the frozen in time places, where you half expect to be caught mooching around by the owner. That pantry, I could rummage in there for ages. Love the photo of you working those stairs like you own them, fab outfit too, blue and purple is such a fab colour combo!

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    1. Thanks, Claire! You'll have to put Sunnycroft on the list for next year. xxx

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  13. Sunnycroft is on my to do list as well, it looks great

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    1. It is - a great way to spend a couple of hours. xxx

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  14. What an amazing place. Isn't it great to walk around those places and fantasize about what it would have been like to host those parties. You look amazing and very befitting of the surroundings.

    P.s. I hope my little parcel arrived.

    Xx

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    1. Thanks, Louise! Sunnycroft really retained the feel of a family house, it wasn't overly grand. I'd happily stay and be a living exhibit! x

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  15. That's my kind of decor! I could live happily in a house like that.
    How cool they let you have a peek at the wardrobe. Pity they didn't let you try anything on.

    I'm enjoying these NT tours.

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    1. I do love a gloomy Victorian interior - hard for photos but fab for real life! xx

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  16. OMG! I LOVE that woman playing Mrs. Slaney! Haha! Her comment must have made your day : )

    I adore visiting places like this. Time capsules. Probably why I still love going to estate sales. They aren't as fancy or as old as this, but it really is a look at someone's life.

    You are both dressed brilliantly and show no signs of a late night the evening before.

    Have a wonderful non-Christmas : P

    bisous
    Suzanne

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    1. She was hilarious, every inch the posh society lady!
      I think loving vintage clothes means more than just owning gorgeous clothes, it's a fascination with previous eras and a love of social history. When I find really old stuff I'm forever dreaming up where it was worn and where.
      Have a fab festive time! xxx

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  17. It's so lovely to see your photos of Sunnycroft! I live on the road directly behind it and used to volunteer in the gardens there for years (I dug out a lot of the allotment sites!). It's really true that the family never threw anything out - many a pair of holey y-fronts have been inventoried and stored carefully by the NT! My mum volunteers there also and she's spent years transcribing Joan Lander's dairies, Mum's always cross though because the dairies were written during the war but Joan writes more about visiting people, playing cards and badminton!

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    1. Hi Susie! No way! I knew you lived in wonderful Wellington but had no idea you lived so close to Sunnycroft or both yours and your mum's connection to it. That's fab.
      That's funny about the diaries and the pants! xxx

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  18. Odd to me to read your home is older than my country! I do enjoy these outings and the stories behind the homes. I cam imagine children in homes like these finding lots of good hiding places.

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    1. If only our walls could talk! They must have seen so much since 1750! xxx

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  19. Oh Vix I am loving these posts!! Every photo had so much to look at in it. How hard was it not to nick something from that wardrobe full of Victorian clothes??

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    1. I was tempted to ask if I could at least have tried a frock on! xxx

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  20. Beautiful house with beautiful you as a guide! Such an interesting property, thank goodness it's been preserved.

    That Daimler looks beautiful! Perfect car for such a house, imagine slowly going along the drive in such s car and knowing that was your home! xxx

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    1. The NT really do a wonderful job, between them, English Heritage and Wetherspoons they're keeping our heritage intact. xxx

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  21. What an enchanting place. Grand, but in a homely sort of way; one of those places in which you really could imagine living there. Well, I could, anyway!!
    8000 items? Pah, I'm waaaaay beyond that I'm sure!
    Zxx

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    1. When we told a friend we were off to look at a house where the owners threw nothing away he did say that it sounded like our place! xxx

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  22. The hall is a great red and it sets off your dress with a perfect contrast! It's nice to visit somewhere you could (almost) imagine living in, it looked like a proper hone.
    Have a very happy Christmas xxx

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    1. Its very considerate that they decorated in a colour to compliment my outfit!
      Have a wonderful Xmas, too! x

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  23. I hope you go on more of these adventures Vix, I love seeing these wonderful old treasures! That staircase is just wonderful! You do look gorgeous in that dress and cape. Very festive! :)

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    1. I'm looking forward to many more adventures. I think we've almost recouped the cost of our NT membership in three weeks! xxx

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  24. Another little National Trust gem! I do like seeing these places that are left as though the owners just popped out. It aids the imagination greatly! I would have loved a peek in that wardrobe... x

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    1. With "Mrs Slaney" downstairs to welcome us in, in really did feel like the owners were still there and we were house guests! xxx

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  25. I love these tours! Thanks Vix. And all that cool stuff to ogle! xox

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    1. Glad you're enjoying them, Carol! x

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  26. What a gem Sunnycroft is. And to think we almost visited it when we were staying in Hereford a couple of years ago. We were visiting another NT property in the area, and were asked if we'd visited Sunnycroft, but somehow we never made it there. Why oh why? I wouldn't mind living there, with all that stuff! Love your dress with that fabulous capelet, by the way! xxx

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    1. It's not far from the Welsh border so you'll have to try and pop in when you're back in wales next year. You'd love it! xxx

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  27. Vix, that looks such a great place! I ADORE Victorian or Edwardian artefacts and homes or history so I would really like to visit! I am glad your seamstress was appreciated!xxx

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    1. Me, too! It was rather similar to some of the houses I've lived in (on a much smaller scale), the fllor tiles especially! xxx

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  28. Another great house - must have been fun to look through all those old clothes. Once again, blue looks so fabulous on you :)

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    1. And instead of the Merry (X) I am going to say happy cidering! (or rumncoking) Cheers

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    2. Ha! Rum'n'coke-ing - brilliant! back at ya! xxx

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  29. Oh how fun. A closet full of Victorian dresses. I think I might have fainted. Even though I have a sweet little town in Canada all picked out for our new home when president fat ass ruins our country, I'm now starting to think that maybe the UK is the place for us. I promise if we move there we will be very polite plus I can shop at Kinky Melon!

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    1. The volunteer came and stood next to me, I thought she just wanted to chat but maybe she suspected I wanted to steal the contents of Mrs Slaney's wardrobe!
      Come to the UK!!! xxx

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  30. i almost crawled into the monitor!!!
    awwww******
    thank you for sharing this treasure with us! i had to laugh out loud by your description of the billiard salon ;-P !
    indeed they should hire you for a living doll! i´m sure you would trow some memory worthy parties too!!
    xxxxxx

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    1. Isn't it fabulous? A home you could easily live in! xxx

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  31. Hah, that linen cupboard makes me feel much better about my own untidy one. How fab that the house still has so much of its original contents - often, the stories make the place as much as the things.

    That dress and cape look lovely and cosy. Definitely dressing to impress there.

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    1. You and me both, Mim! My linen cupboard is a shocker! x

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  32. "Sunnycroft" is a lovely name for a home! I would have enjoyed snooping through the clothing in the closet too. Good thing there were people who kept everything or we would never get to see how people lived back in the day. Neither you or I are "Christmas people", but I will wish you a Merry Christmas anyway.

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    1. Isn't it a happy sounding name? I'm glad it was owned by party-going hoarders rather than some prim and proper pious types.
      Have a wonderful Xmas with Sylvester. xxx

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  34. What a wonderful house and I'm so pleased it was left to the NT, it isn't just huge piles that tell fascinating stories of our past. Glad your attire was appreciated too. I have to say that is a magnificent Christmas tree (sorry I mentioned the C word lol.) xx

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    1. I love that it's not all grand country piles and mansions - I like real homes where real people lived. I'm looking forward to visiting the Back To Backs in Birmingham next year! xxx
      PS I need to go back when the tree's been removed!!

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  35. So glad that you fully enjoy your new membership, and we can benefit from it as well! Where else I'd find out about this lovely house under the tall trees? The tile floor and the staircase are so impressive. And you look absolutely charming! Mary Poppins in a bright outfit! So at home with surroundings. :) Happy holidays, dear!

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    1. Thanks, Natalia! Lots of Victorian British terraced houses have similar tiled floors but on a much smaller scale, aren't they fab? xxx

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  36. Brilliant, I am enjoying these visits you share, thank you. My favourite NT properties have always been the ones where you get to see plenty of everyday objects.

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    1. I'm so glad you're enjoying the NT tours. I love seeing everyday objects as well, you can really relate to the owners then. xxx

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  37. ohhh, I love your review posts on historical buildings, as I should love to go there to enjoy them by myself!
    You look gorgeous, your maxi dresses look so fabulous (and cozy!). Nice to see that handsome guy wearing his red trousers too!. You rock!
    besos
    besos

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    1. Thanks, Monica! We've got so many gorgeous places to visit and loads are on our doorstep - even more fun! xxx

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  38. Wow, another stunning place to explore. It's so neat that the origin contents are all still there like me that.

    And how terrific is your dress and matching cape? Answer: Very.

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    1. Thanks, Loulou! One liked to make an effort when one's visiting the landed gentry! xxx

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  39. I would love a poke around a place like this! It's so nice that it's been preserved in all it's glory.
    I had a bike just like the one pictured here, it was solid and so, so heavy for a teenage me, but it was the best bike - so comfy to ride, despite scrapped knuckles from narrow alleys! Wish I still had it...

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    1. Old bikes are the best! I've got a 1960s shopper festering in the shed but I seem to have forgotten how to ride it! x

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  40. Is it too late to say HAPPY NEW YEAR to you and Jon??!! I have been away from the blogging world since before Christmas but am now on the Catching Up roller coaster. I love these cultural tours you do to beautiful estates and buildings I will never get to see (well, probably not all of them, if I even get to one). And to have that supreme compliment that "one" was "dressed to impress" (and would, no doubt, be accepted "into society" and invited to at least one of the three parties each week)must have been confidence building!!!! In the real world, you certainly impress! xx

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    1. It's never to late to wish anyone a Happy New Year, Elizabeth and despite it being February I wish you the same, too. xxx

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Love from Vix
xxx