Preston Park Museum

Six word Saturday

Taking a step back into childhood

What to do on a grey day in January?  Why, visit a Lego exhibition, of course.  A walk through time, in bricks, at Preston Park Museum.

Lascaux cave paintings

Copernicus discovers Heliocentrism

The railway’s coming!

China on the rise

Amazing what you can do with a few bricks, isn’t it?  The captions should help if you’re bemused.  All part of Saturday’s rich entertainment, as is Debbie’s Six Word Saturday.  Enjoy your day!

Jo’s Monday walk : The Butterfly Trail


It’s almost unreal, isn’t it?  You cannot imagine the delight I shared on Good Friday.  A planned expedition to Preston Park did not start out well. Why, oh why, had I not factored in Bank Holiday crowds and full to bulging roads on this warm Spring day?  It almost sabotaged my plans.

But, not quite!  My daughter learned to drive just a few years ago, and is not familiar with the roads in the area.  I am a self-confessed terrible navigator.  A winning combination, with no Sat Nav?  Not really, but we managed somehow.  As we crept along in dense traffic towards the gates of Preston Park Museum, my heart was in my mouth.  So many cars were turning in to the park.  Were we even going to be admitted, or find parking?  I had never seen this volume of traffic!

We were almost shrugged in, with a ‘You might find a space.  You’re welcome to look’.  Even the overflow parking had overflown!  It transpired that the miniature steam railway had opened for Easter, and everyone in the north east knew about this, except me.  But we were meant to be there.  As we crawled around the parking areas a space presented itself, in the nick of time.  Heaving huge sighs of relief, we got out of the car, and headed away from the crowds, down to the serenity of the river.


A peaceful stroll along the boardwalk, in gentle Spring sunshine, soon restored our equilibrium.  Hearing the soft puttering of an engine, I was delighted to see the Teesside Princess rounding the bend.  No passengers.  She must have been on her way to an engagement.



There was no shortage of eager dog walkers, and a few children, along the path, but there was space to breathe.  Most people had gone to the main event.  We exchanged smiles and greetings and patiently examined the verges, collating evidence of Spring.

Suitably calmed after our ordeal, it was, of course, time for tea.  There is a beautifully ornamental conservatory attached to the museum, where once you could take tea in complete refinement.  Sadly this is now reserved for private engagements, but I knew that we could still get a cuppa in the Victorian tearooms.  We weren’t the only ones to have this idea, so peace and quiet it was not.  But still a fun place to sit outside, watching the children attempting to bowl Victorian hoops, and down a skittle or two.  The spice cake disappeared very rapidly!

Well fortified, it was time to venture further.  Leo is perfecting his blacksmith skills and was interested to see the large forge. Tools and ironware weighed down the walls, but the forge itself was not in operation.  On quieter days, I have spent time in the Victorian shops chatting to the assistants, but the museum was obviously at full stretch today.  A sign announced discreetly that if you found a store unattended it was due to the lack of volunteers.  I wished that I lived a little closer, so that I might.

An enviable array of beautiful and fascinating objects are to be found in the museum, and we had a brief look around.  You may remember this post from last year, when I showed you inside.  Today we had a different agenda, but first I couldn’t resist a peep at the Egg Exhibition.  One of the reasons the museum was so busy was the Easter Egg trail.  Laid throughout, the vibrant eggs sitting in the display cases, a magnet for small eyes.

An ‘eggshibition’ from local schools was mounted in the grand hall.  It raised a smile or two.  Then it was back into the sunshine.  Past the new skate park and the sky walk, both wildly popular with the youngsters, we approached our destination.  Butterfly World. Closed November through February, the butterfly house had only reopened on 4th March, and I had no idea if there would be butterflies to see.  Was I in for a treat!


Slipping cautiously through the plastic curtains, we had barely taken a few steps into the enclosure when the flutter of wings caught our eye.  We gazed, and gasped!  They were everywhere!  The steamy heat enveloped us in a green world.



Their wings beating frenziedly, they clung to the flame-coloured flowers, extracting the nectar and flitting swiftly to the next.  I was wearing a pink and black checked jacket, and rapidly I became a part of the attractions.  Little girls with bows in their hair were easy targets too.

The tropical flowers, with their flamboyant hues, magnetised butterflies and humans alike.  A waterfall splashed into a pond full of Koi.  It was a completely magical experience, standing there as the butterflies swooped and glided all around us.


There was a good variety of butterflies, in every shape and size, but they moved so swiftly that many were hard to capture.  A large species with vivid blue wings was particularly elusive, and a tiny one with completely diaphanous wings was simply a blur in my photos.  I was so impressed with the experience that I would recommend it to anyone.  We withdrew reluctantly when the heat became overwhelming.


Amazing, aren’t they?  The Preston Park Museum website is full of information about the house and grounds, including a page dedicated to Butterfly World.  I hope you have enjoyed my Easter special.  We certainly did!  Do you think Jude might like my Wildlife too?

walking logo

Thanks everybody, for your company and your wonderful contributions to my walks.  Anyone with a walk to share can join in, be it gentle potter or 20 mile hike. (now I’m getting carried away!)  Details are on my Jo’s Monday walk page.  Just click on the logo above.


First stop- a beach with a view from Smidge.  Do bring a jumper!

Tyninghame, East Lothian

Whizzing off to the other side of the world, and some fun sculptures next, with Ellen :

Going for a Walk : Auckland Botanic Gardens

Waiting to be awoken for the Summer season :

The sleeping fairy tale

St. Albans looks a really interesting spot.  Must look up Debbie there one day!

A Roamin’ Walk through Roman St. Albans

Like to add to your vinyl collection?  Lee Ann knows just the place :

Wellington- A stroll along Cuba Street

Fancy riding a funicular?  Join Becky and she’ll show you the back streets of Lisbon :

Off the tourist track

My lovely friend, Gerry, has joined us this week!  Please don’t miss this look at his home town :

Lymington-Keyhaven walk

Jackie’s back home in Toronto but can’t resist one lingering look back :

Monday Walk- Puerto Vallarta

I could be happy strolling on the Piazza Navona- couldn’t you?

What caught my eye in Rome- part 2

Please welcome another newcomer, Kathrin, with a fascinating museum walk :

San Jose Downtown 

And a lady called Sim, who likes to walk the London Underground routes.  That’s different, isn’t it?

Above Ground on the London Underground- Day 23 : So this is Knightsbridge?

Miriam’s walking away all the angst on the beach this week.  Great idea!

Coastal walking – from wild to mild

Just a little inland but with wonderful views- join Susan for a gentle stroll!

Black Hill of Morro Bay

Murals with a message from Jill, and very beautiful so don’t miss!

Sea Walls in my hometown

That’s it for another week!  Some great walks there to keep you busy.  Looks like a very wet and dismal Easter Monday here, but I’ve still got great company and I really can’t complain.  I don’t know if I dare suggest a walk though.  After a mighty Sunday lunch yesterday we ventured as far as the local park.  Bright sunshine turned to driving rain and hailstones!  The ladies at Monday Escapes are out and about again this week, and maybe you’ll find some sunshine there.  If you’d just like some smiles, have a look at Lany Poniedzialek (Wet Monday) in Poland.  See you next week!

Get on the museum trail!

Tea, anyone?

Tea, anyone?

It may be January, but that’s no reason to sit at home.  I’ve already seen my first snowdrops of the year but, if you don’t like the cold and the great outdoors, there’s plenty of entertainment to be found in museums.  My Monday walk Beside the Tees took me to a local favourite, Preston Park.  Best known for its Victorian Street, the museum is also packed full of titbits of history.

It’s quite fascinating to wander through your past.   My childhood was unexceptional but I rediscovered, with delight, a hand puppet of Muffin the Mule, and cardboard cutout dolls that kept a younger me engaged for many happy hours.  Baby dolls were so ugly in those days, with their nubbly heads and screwed up faces!

The rag rugs were all too familiar from our hearthside, and that modern contraption, a television set, had me chuckling.  The wavy lines on the screen just about made identifiable images, yet I remember being glued to a similar wiggly picture(or even the test card!)  Of course, you younger people won’t have a clue what I’m talking about.

Many a parent was engaged in the ‘how and the why’ of the exhibits, and I was not the only one to exclaim in joy over a recognition.  I featured many of the museum pieces in a previous post, so I won’t dwell too long on the past.  What I do want to show you is the exhibition space.

This is devoted to the Cleveland College of Art and Design and I found it fascinating to view the screen sets and the student’s work.  This intriguing creature greeted me at the entrance.

What a work of imagination and craftsmanship!  Step inside with me.

Isn't this backdrop lovely?

Isn’t this backdrop lovely?

With amazing intricacy

With amazing intricacy

I hope that you like what you’ve seen so far, but now it’s your turn.  You must have a local museum or two?  I’d love to see inside.  After all, I can’t hang about in the open all Winter, now can I?

You might have seen A little something extra?  It gave all the details of Cleveland College of Art’s connection to the museum.  Some of the work is amazing.

Well, I’m off out into the cold again now.  See you soon!

Jo’s Monday walk : Beside the Tees

An elusive sun over the Tees

An elusive sun hovers over the River Tees

Crisp, frosty mornings in the Christmas holidays.  What do you do?  Lie in bed, wallowing in the warmth?  Well, that’s one option.  But you know that this is Jo’s Monday walk, and really, you’ll feel so much better if you get out for a bit of fresh air.

A scarf would be good, and maybe a hat.  Let’s not loiter and you’ll soon warm up.  I have a nice spot for you, and there’s even a Victorian tea room to round things off in.  Bet that got your attention, didn’t it?

I’m going to Preston Park this morning, beside the River Tees.  There’s ample free parking and a good playground, if any of you have children. (or surplus energy)

Isn't there something about water and reflections?

Isn’t there something about watery reflections?

And cloud reflections

And clouds!

There’s not much activity down at the landing stage today, but in summer there are boats to hire. A couple of regal swans gaze disdainfully at the ducks.  Well, they are rather common!

The landing stage

The landing stage

The path runs alongside the Tees in both directions, so spin a coin or follow your instincts.  You can loop back into Preston Park when you’ve seen enough.  The Teesside Heritage Trail will take you all the way to neighbouring Yarm, but you have to leave the river bank and follow a stretch of road to join it.  This morning we’ll stay close by the river.

The Tees looks pretty full right now

The Tees looks pretty full right now

The trees are looking quite sparse

But the trees are rather forlorn!

The sun casts interesting shadows

The sun casts some interesting shadows

And it's a great place for dogs to romp. Can you see him?

And the dogs just love to romp here.  Can you see one?

The dogs are having their own excitable game of ‘tiggy’ and it’s not easy to track one down with the camera.  There are lots of dog walkers out and about, and a relaxed, happy, holiday feeling.

Aren't those wispy clouds lovely?

Aren’t these wispy clouds really lovely?

But I bet that water's cold!

But I bet that water’s cold!

Let's head back up into the park

Let’s head back up into the park

Anyone feeling active?

Anyone feeling active?

Or there's a skate park?

Or there’s a skate park, if you fancy?

You’ll remember I suggested a cuppa in the Victorian tearooms?  I’d promised my husband a toasted teacake (hoping to get him out of bed on a chilly morning) but it didn’t quite work out that way.  It was fine, though.

The Victorian Street was looking very festive

The Victorian Street was looking very festive

Chocolate anyone?

Chocolate anyone?

But there's a welcoming light on in the tearooms

But there’s a welcoming light on in the tearooms

It was fresh outside and I could see a smiling face beckoning from behind the counter.  Two smiling faces, in fact, and no customers except us.  Because it was the holiday period, the tearooms were being run by volunteers from the museum staff. You’ve guessed it- no toasted teacakes, but there were complimentary mince pies or biscuits with our mug of coffee.

Plenty of spare tables

Plenty of spare tables

And a beautifully decorated mirror

And a beautifully decorated mirror

You know how these things work.  Seeing us cosily inside, people began to drift in from the courtyard.  A couple with a toddler were encouraging her to play skittles, but the warmth lured them too.  Time for us to move on.

You may remember, I’ve visited Preston Park museum before.  It was back in February and I was given a ticket valid for a full year (for only £1!) so I thought I’d have a look and see what was new. I found an interesting exhibition, which I’ll share with you another day, but you can get a flavour of the museum from my link.

The conservatory was closed to the public, for a wedding reception later in the day, but I still managed a bit of a peek.

There were paper stars suspended from the ceiling

There were paper stars suspended from the ceiling

Pretty, isn't it?

Pretty, don’t you think?

But the best bit was the polar bears and penguins!  I borrowed a couple of photos from the museums’s Facebook page.  I’m sure they won’t mind.

Our last walk of 2014!  It wasn’t too strenuous, was it?  I do hope you’ll join me next year.  I so look forward to your company.

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First, I have some lovely walks to share.  If you’d like to contribute, it’s very straightforward. Take a look at my Jo’s Monday walk page or click on the logo.  Many thanks to everybody for this week’s efforts.  Let’s put that kettle on and have a read, shall we?

Drake is taking me somewhere new this week.  And watery!  It looks fabulous…

Eau de Vologne

And here’s one worth waiting for!  Part 2 of the Botanic Gardens with Jude  :

The Royal Botanic Garden Sydney, and the Domain, part 2 

Aren’t they stylish in Canada?  I love these door decorations from Violet Sky  :

Ring in the holidays! 

And Colline has shared some beautiful windows from Toronto.  I know you’ll love them!

Christmas windows

It just remains to wish you all a joyous and peaceful New Year.  Happy walking!

A Lingering look at Windows: week 7

A hint of mystery

A hint of mystery and the exotic behind these doors

I’m sure you can’t begin to guess where I was lingering this week?  Does Preston Park Museum ring any bells?  I thought I might do the Winter Garden and the Victorian Street separately- you know, big finale!- but I didn’t want you tiring of the subject.  So we’ll just take a quick peep in the conservatory before moving swiftly on.

Orchids are beautiful, aren't they?

Orchids are beautiful, aren’t they?

There weren’t any comfy seat pads on the chairs and the doors were firmly closed, so I took the hint and kept walking.  And this was my reward!

And this was my reward!

A toy shop window to press my nose up against

So I did!

So I did!  Sorry- I know some of you don’t like Pierrots, but he was loveable.

Maybe chocolate is more your thing?

Maybe chocolate is more your thing?

Or objects d'art?

Or objects d’art?

No shortage of that!

No shortage of those!

I do know one or two of you who don't mind sweets!

I do know one or two of you who don’t mind a sweet treat!

Remember any of these?

Remember any of these?

A few of the shops don’t qualify for this post.  The blacksmith didn’t have a window, as such- just lots of tools.  I wandered into the printers and a very nice young lady was setting up the press to print some cards.  She was well bundled up against the cold, as she needed to be with the door wide open.  I couldn’t photograph her cheerful smile as it was a little dark in there.

But I did find an ironmonger, for the practical ones among you

But I did find an ironmonger, for the practical ones among you

And a photographer, for the family portaits

And a photographer, for the family portraits

This was my very favourite!  Apologies for the poor quality of the photo

This was my very favourite shop!  Apologies for the terrible quality of the photo.

I know what some of you are waiting for.  I saw this sign but couldn’t find anywhere to buy an alcoholic drink, though I looked very hard.

Promises!  Promises!

Promises! Promises!

So it had to be the tea rooms and the "temperance drinks"

So it had to be the tea rooms and the “temperance drinks”

But you know what I forgot to take a photo of?  The Victorian sponge sandwich on the counter. You’ll just have to take my word for it that it was very nice.  Just in case you’ve missed any of my Preston Park Museum posts, you can find them here, and here, and here.  Understatement- that’s what I’m going for!

Meanwhile I wonder what kind of windows everyone else is showcasing this week.  Find them at Dawn’s The Day After.  I believe she’s gone all romantic this week.

A little something extra

A theatre in miniature

A theatre in miniature

I don’t suppose you were expecting this, and neither was I really!  My visit to Preston Park Museum was a series of lovely surprises.  I turned a corner to be greeted by a sign demanding CREATE!  Well, it’s not one of my strong suites, but I was quite happy to look.

Apparently Cleveland College of Art and Design had done some work for the reopening of the museum, and examples of this are on display.  A theatre made of cardboard cut outs was the chief exhibit.  My photos don’t do it justice but I thought it was enchanting.

The leading lady?

The leading lady?

Supporting act

Supporting act!

The full cast

The full ensemble

Aside from the theatre, there was costume, millinery and pure quirkiness on show.  Creative, for sure.  It made me want to see more of the students work.

A distinguished gentleman looks on

Feathers and curls!

The devil is in the detail

The devil is in the detail?

And lastly, six costumes designed for the Victorian Street.

Appropriately dressed for a trip to the ironmongers

Appropriately dressed for a trip to the Ironmongers

If you saw Gracious living, Victorian style earlier this week you’ll know how much I loved the museum.  My next destination will be the Victorian Street.  Hopefully it won’t disappoint.  I’ve already been asked if there will be cake.  What self-respecting Victorian Street doesn’t have cake?