Monday, 1 July 2013

Friday, 21 June 2013


This is an artwork that I have drawn recently. It is a still life of a plate of fruit which was in front of me when I drew it.

Post Impressionism

Recently we have been to Paris and seen many famous artworks, in the Louvre, the Musee D'Orsay and the Orangerie. I have seen many styles of paintings in these three art galleries and one of my favourites is post impressionism.

Post impressionism, is the name given to a group of artists in the late 19th and very early 20th century. The artists were inspired by impressionism, and some of their paintings are quite similar to this style, but they are not centred on nature, unlike the impressionists. A lot of post impressionist paintings have vibrant colours and a lot of emotion.

My favourite Post Impressionist artist is Vincent Van Gogh. His paintings had thick, clearly visible brush strokes and a lot of emotion. Some of his most famous paintings are "Sunflowers" and "Starry  Night". I have seen a lot of paintings by him at the Musee D'Orsay and my favourite is "Starry Night over the Rhone" (not to be confused with his most famous artwork, Starry Night).

The artwork is a painting of the River Rhone at night, painted by Van Gogh in 1888. In the foreground there is the bank of the Rhone, with two lovers on it and two boats floating in the water. As you can see, it is not a realistic painting but undoubtedly a good one!

Tuesday, 18 June 2013


Last week we caught the channel train to Paris. The train went under the English Channel and across the French countryside before we arrived.

Me and Becca on the train

Paris was amazing and we did heaps of great things. Here are a few of my favourites:

1. Place de la Concorde

The place de la Concorde is a square in Paris between the Arc de Triumph and the Tuileries Gardens. It was the square where the guillotine was set up during the French Revolution so it is the place where Marie Antoinette and her husband were beheaded. When we arrived at the Place de la Concorde, my sisters and I saw the Eiffel Tower for the first time. We also saw the Arc de Triomphe. In the centre of the Place de la Concorde was a huge Egyptian obelisk, set up in Victorian times to distract people from the square's grisly history.

our family at the Place de la Concorde

the Obelisk

Place de la Concorde with the Arc de Triomphe behind

2. Montmartre

The hill of Montmartre is the highest point in Paris and was the home of many artists including Van Gogh. At Montmartre we visited the beautiful church of Sacre Coeur, positioned on top of Monmartre with a great view of the city. We also saw the 'je t'aime' wall (a wall covered with 'I love you' in all the languages of the world), a square with heaps of artists there painting portraits of tourists, and the Moulin Rouge (Red Mill). We had gelatos, too!

me at the top of Montmartre

in front of the house where Van Gogh lived

3. The Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel Tower was designed by Gustave Eiffel for the Paris World Fair. The tower was meant to be temporary but became permanent instead. For 41 years it was the world's tallest man made structure! When we visited the Eiffel Tower, I climbed to the second level with my family and took a lift to the top. The view was amazing. I even saw a hot air balloon!

climbing the Eiffel Tower

at the very top!

4. The Louvre

Once a palace, the Louvre is a magnificent art gallery with over 30,000 artworks including the Mona Lisa. When we visited the Louvre we saw many famous artworks: the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo and heaps of other great things!

in front of the Louvre

in front of the Mona Lisa

Dad and me in front of The Rebel Slave by Michelangelo

looking at one of the works of art with dad and Bec and Elsie

Paris was incredible.

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Imperial War Museum Duxford

On the 5th of June, we visited the Imperial War Museum at Duxford. It was an amazing place and has an incredibly interesting history. Since before WWI it was a military base and continued to be one until the 70s when it became a museum.

Many of the rooms housing the exhibits are the original rooms from when it was a RAF base, huge plane garages and long runways between them.  One of the exhibits was the operations room, where decisions were made about where to send out squadrons of planes and what planes should be sent.

The main exhibits were WWII planes and other things from the World Wars. Some of the latter were searchlights which would have scanned the skys of London during the blitz for planes flying overhead under cover of Darkness, and gun turrets (I think that was the name, please correct me if I am wrong) that were dome shaped and made of concrete. There was a slit in them and a man would sit inside and fire out of the slits with a gun. There was also a truck with a winch on it for inflating barrage balloons.

However the imperial war museum mainly housed planes, from modern planes to biplanes and WWII fighters, it had it all, even a piece of the Wright Brothers' flying machine, the first ever flying machine capable of powered flight. We went inside a Concorde plane, explored the science of how planes fly in some science experiments, and saw many WWII fighters and bombers. It even had a Harrier plane, the only plane able to take off and land vertically!

The Imperial War Museum was great!!!!

Me in front of a replica Supermarine Spitfire

Grandad and me looking at an aircraft

Me discovering the science behind flight

Me at the air and space exhibit

Thursday, 13 June 2013


Several weeks ago we visited Nottingham, a town in the midlands of England which is associated with the legends of Robin Hood. One of our ancestors, Joseph Woodward, came from Nottingham and was involved in the Nottingham reform bill riots of 1831.

The first place we saw in Nottingham was Nottingham castle. The history of this castle dates back to the reign of William I. He ordered a wooden fort to be built on castle rock, a tall, natural rock formation. Nottingham castle was changed in many ways over the centuries until it became the elaborate Georgian palace it is today. However, the Georgian palace was almost entirely destroyed in 1831 when reform bill rioters burnt Nottingham Castle and turned it into a scorched, empty, shell. It remained a ruin until 1875 when it was repaired, and turned into one of the first museums outside London.

The highlight of Nottingham castle was for me, definitely the cave tour. It was a tour through the medieval man made caves that wind through castle rock and their history.

After Nottingham castle we visited the old Nottingham jail, now a museum, the gaol where Joseph Woodward, one of our ancestors was tried for burning a hovel down during the Nottingham riots.

In the gaol, we saw the court room where Joseph Woodward was tried, many of the cells including the pits, horrible cruel dark cells cut out of the rock that were so horrible they were outlawed by the Victorians, dark cells, cells that were almost pitch black, even when the door was open, "improved" cells an improvement to the pits but cold, dark and horrible, that like the pits, had no toilets so it all went on the floor, a medieval cell and an Oubliette, basically a pit dug into the ground where victims were just dropped in and left to die.

 We also saw the gallows and the exercise yards as well as the name of Valentine Marshall, etched into the brick of the mens exercise yard. He was transported to Australia, like Joseph Woodward.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Badger Watch

On the 28th of May, I stayed the night at the house my grandad and nanna are staying in in England. It is a small cottage with a backyard 4 acres in area and has a newt pond and an orchard. Green woodpeckers, foxes, rabbits, pheasants, partridges and muntjac deer have been seen in it by my Grandad.

Grandad and nanna picked me up from my house and took me to their house. After a snack we went pond dipping in the newt pond. Pond dipping is when you scoop up pond life in a butterfly net. We caught lots of the wild animals that inhabit the pond - water striders, an aquatic leech and lots of common newts. The male newts were very colourful with a long crest and the females were plain and brown.

A female newt

Me freeing a newt

Me watching the newts

A male newt

Then we had to go inside and after having dinner, left for Tewin Orchard nature reserve. We were going to stay up late, in a badger hide!

Me, Nanna and Grandad
We arrived at the hide at 7:45. There were lots of rabbits outside it and we caught a glimpse of a muntjac deer, trotting across the meadow into the undergrowth. About an hour later, we heard the scream of a barn owl and the hoot of a tawny owl. A muntjac deer came right up to the hide windows and started eating the nuts laid out to attract animals.

The muntjac deer
A little later, a fox's silhouette crossed the meadow and another silhouette crossed the meadow a minute later. The second silhouette was different to the first, it was much stockier. The silhouette shuffled towards the hide and suddenly, it was close enough for me to see its head colour. Its head was white, with black stripes. It was undoubtedly a badger!

After that it just got better. The badger came right up to the hide and after sniffing the air, settled down to a dinner of nuts. Soon another badger arrived, and a mangy fox which sat behind a log right near the hide. Then a third badger and a young fox arrived. The foxes ate a few things on the ground and I think one killed a rabbit. Anyway, the other fox came to the one with the rabbit and the two started fighting rearing up on their hind legs and narrowing the eyes, they snarled and showed their ferocious toothy jaws before one of them trotted off towards our hide. More and more badgers arrived, feasting on the nuts. It was an incredible experience!

A badger

four of the badgers (the fifth was just outside the camera view

Me with my binoculars

Soon we had to leave the hide. After briefly getting very lost in the nature reserve, we reached the car. We got back at 12:30 and on the drive home I think I saw a bat!

The Tewin Orchard Badger Hide was great!!

Monday, 27 May 2013

Richard Kingsnorth

On Thursday the 23rst of May, we drove around Kent, the home of some of my ancestors, the Pullens and Kingsnorths. We visited three villages, Chilham, Headcorn and Staplehurst. This blog post will focus on the latter of these villages where many of our Kingsnorth ancestors that came from. One of them was called Richard Kingsnorth.

Richard Kingsnorth, was born in Stuart times, we have no idea where or when. He became a Baptist in 1644 after watching a Anglican Vicar declare he was converting to being a Baptist. Richard Kingsnorth was persuaded by the Vicar and some time in the 1640's set up a secret baptist church in his house, as there were no other baptist churches in the area . At the time it was illegal to have a baptist church meeting in your house. If a church was discovered there, you would be fined and sent to jail. We know that he was never caught.

When we visited Staplehurst we saw Richard Kingsnorth's church where he was married and the font where he was christened.

We walked along a muddy track betweent two fields that Richard Kingsnorth himself would have walked down all the time to get to the centre of Staplehurst.

At the end of the track was his house, where he had set up the church.

It was an excellent day!

the track up to the house

Richard Kingsnorth's house where the church met in 1644

Paxton Pits

A couple of Saturdays ago we drove out to Paxton Pits nature reserve, a series of pools bordered by reeds and located near Little Paxton, Cambridgeshire. It is home to otters, water voles, shrews, kingfishers, cormorants, newts and nightingales. In fact, Paxton Pits is the best location in the UK to hear them!

Our trip to Paxton Pits started well. In a pond in the picnic area there were newts, backswimmers, water striders and great diving beetles. Great diving beetles are medium sized insects which eat fish and tadpoles. Backswimmers skim upside down just under the surface of the water and are a carnivorous insect. Like the diving beetle, water striders stand on the surface of the water and zoom about like a hovercraft. Newts are amphibians resembling lizards that spend half the year on land and half in the water.

I am not sure what the types of newts I saw were. Possibly they were great crested newts, smooth newts or palmate newts.

We started the walk which was called the Heron trail. It went in a circle around the pits. Along the walk we came to a hide where you could look out over the water and be hidden from the birds. We saw cormorants, great crested grebes (a type of water bird) and other types of birds.

We continued the walk and heard nightingales and cuckoos call. We saw some more birds - a nesting coot and two mute swans. Soon the walk was over. Paxton Pits Reserve was great!
Looking for newts

Great crested grebe
Great cormorant

a robin singing