I decided to go on a good old-fashioned day trip today. I went to Bowes Museum in Barnard Castle. It's a place I've passed many times, but never actually visited. I suppose I was craving a bit of genteel elegance.
Barnard Castle is a sweet little market town surrounded by the most beautiful verdant, voluptuous countryside. The English countryside in early summer is heaven on earth. I really enjoyed my drive there, I could smell wild garlic in the hedgerows and the frothy hawthorn blossom was gently falling all around. Truthfully, I would love to live somewhere like Barnard Castle. The high street was full of traditional butchers and greengrocers with ramshackle piles of colourful fruit and vegetables. Oh, it all seemed a million miles away from the School of Hard Knocks.
Well. Bowes Museum was lovely. I drifted around in a floaty maxi dress admiring the portraits of jowly majors mounting mighty steeds. And, I loved this trio of mysterious and melancholy ladies.
I was very taken with this little whippet sculpture.
And another whippet in this picture. Maybe I should have my portrait painted with the lurchers.
My favourite part of the museum was the costume room. This had everything from Tudor dresses to 1960s mini skirts. I loved this 1950s dress (do you notice the corset and bra too)?
There were also some lovely furnished rooms.
But, the thing that Bowes is most famous for is its glorious silver swan. It is an automaton, and it comes to life at 2pm every day. I didn't actually see this. By that time I was settled in a quaint little fish and chip shop, devouring the most divine haddock, mushy peas and bread 'n' butter.
Speaking of the contrast between the gentle romance of Teesdale and the crime and grime of the School of Hard Knocks, I am yet again facing a dilemma. Two interesting teaching jobs have materialised. The first is in the little mining village I grew up in. The second is in a picturesque village just outside of Sunderland - the village that is home to my misanthropic and eccentric ex Senor Boldon (Rochester's brother). My dilemma is this: do I continue to dedicate my career to the SOHK, and accept its Bleasdale-esque bleakness and Pompous's infuriating buffoonery. (If you forgive the 'fingers down throat' platitude, it is where I can truly make a difference. ). Or, do I go where pastures are greener, cheeks are rosier and life is generally sweeter?
Of course, if I opted for Senor Boldon's stomping ground then I could always encounter the bounder at parents' evenings. The horror! Hmmm. Maybe I should discount that option. Although, what a fascinating blog that would be.
Something tells me I am fated to be carried out of the SOHK in a wooden box. Given the nature of our current Year 5 and 6 nutjobs, that could well be sooner than any of us anticipate.