A few weeks ago, @DitaVonTeese posted a twitpic of something called the Silver Swan, and I thought "Ooh, how pretty", assumed it resided in Paris or LA or one of the other exotic locations Dita hangs out, and thought nothing more of it.
THEN, a girl I vaguely know, who lives in the general Newcastle area, re-tweeted Dita, saying something about being taken to see the swan all her life. "Huh?" thought I, "That swan thing lives in England? In the North East? Then I must go there!" I clicked the link and learned that the 17th century lifesize automaton is housed in the Bowes Museum in County Durham, just a short journey from where I live.
THEN, I stumbled across a post by Pink Bow, a North-East blogger whose amazing style I very much admire, about her trip to see an exhibition of Vivienne Westwood shoes - at the Bowes Museum.
THEN I had a random Monday off work, and THEN my friend Kayleigh got fired for having dodgy wisdom teeth, and THAT is how I came to take a road trip to the Bowes Museum yesterday.
The museum is GORGEOUS, but Kayleigh and I were actually a little underwhelmed by the exhibits, for which we had paid nine whole pounds AND been heavily hinted towards a donations box upon our exit. A lot of the everyday exhibits were packed up while the rooms were being repainted, or were back on display, still partially wrapped up. As for the Vivienne Westwood shoes, they were quite astounding, but the exhibition seemed kind of unfinished - the shoes seemed to have been hastily pushed into a room already half-filled with the textiles exhibits, some of the display cases were only half-full, and some information (other than the short biography of VW) about Westwood's collections and inspirations and the evolution of the brand would have been nice.
I really liked the swan - I was surprised by how fast its silver neck moved, all jerky and violent like a real swan, and the creepy, twinkly music that played while it dove for, caught and gobbled up its silver fish gave it that sinister magical realism that I spent a joyous dissertation-season obsessing over! (Oh Freud, you and your theories of the uncanny and the unheimlich...!) I did think that it had been bigged-up a little too much, though- the extent of the "Come and see our silver swan!" publicity didn't do the actual swan any favours.
Kayleigh and I, having exhausted our capacity for looking at antiquities within half an hour, were also disappointed with the museum's facilities for children. How are we supposed to colour in an ancient Roman plate when the pencils are all blunt and you don't provide a rubber?! Or, for that matter, how are we to play the amazing-looking 3D snakes and ladders game in the shape of the actual museum, without counters or a dice?
HOWEVERRR, the day was not a complete wash-out, because we indulged in what is definitely my completely absolute all-time favourite activity, behaving like a loony and posing for silly pictures at local places of interest. Since I was geektastic and spent yesterday evening organising my shambolic My Pictures folder by event, then month, then year (way to end a holiday in style, Hamer), here are some of my favourite silly memories, featuring some of my favourite silly people.
To start with, here's Simon in Stratford-upon-Avon, imitating some of Shakespeare's best-loved characters:
Above; as Falstaff and Lady MacScottishPlay. Below, as Hamlet, with Hannah as the skull.
Stephanie and I as very serious sentries at Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen:
Me trying to push Hannah into the Serpentine...
...and as a pair of pixies in the shrubbery:
Hannah is the best person to take silly pictures with. Here we are having fun in the children's playground:
Children have the most fun in museums. Stephanie and I loved the secret mouse hole at the Hancock.
Ruth, Alice, Matt and me on the steps of the cathedral in Liverpool:
Impersonating Billy Fury, also Liverpool:
Me making friends with a lion doorstop at Kensington Palace:
Me having a bath at Beamish:
And here's some more from the Bowes Museum:
Kayleigh working hard on her loom.
* P.S. First two pictures courtesy of the Bowes Museum website, and by "courtesy of", I mean that I Prnt Scrn-ed and stole them, but I will take them down if they ask me to.