The cliffs near Fishguard in Wales are very impressive and are obviously close to the coast. Unfortunately, I had read of a competition being run by the National Trust where you could win an all expenses paid week in a NT castle. All I had to do was take a better photograph than anyone else in UK that showed the best of the British coastline, send it to the NT and win. Well, did I take up the challenge. Jan likes climbing up steep places and yomping for bloody miles and normally I don’t. I can’t think of too much worse, but from then on I took off like a mountain goat whenever we got close to the edge of the sea. Scrambling and crouching and leaning out precariously to find the ultimate image, I could almost taste the feeling of having one of my photos plastered all over National Trust calendars, brochures, gift catalogues, coffee mugs, oven gloves, tea towels, note pads, dog bowls, fridge magnets, socks and posters in every NT shop.
The other cunning stunt of the National Trust is to situate the carpark, information and gift shop and the dunnies bloody miles from the pile of old rocks (church, castle or cathedral) or garden, stately Robber Baron mansion or other worthy site. I suspect it is a conspiracy between the National Health and the National Trust to keep the British fit. Either that or it is a scheme to keep the unemployed busy building seemingly endless pathways. Puff, puff, puff.
I must be becoming more a deeper red version of socialist as I get older, but wandering through the Stately Homes of England I find myself getting increasing annoyed by all the incredibly expensive stuff these crooks collected and how much money they must have spent knocking down huge forests to plant sweeping vistas of grass and having their lackeys dig, by hand, lakes and ponds as big as the Mediterranean just so they could boast that Capability Brown woz ‘ere.
No mention is ever made either in these grand houses about how much of the aristocracy’s wealth was paid for by the slave trade. And those that weren’t were often built on the sweat and misery of small children working 16 hours a day in dark, satanic mills or down suffocating coal mines.
What makes it worse is that usually just out of sight of the view from the drawing room, or the withdrawing room window, are the ruins that were the pox-ridden, sanitation-free, running waterless and heating-free houses and hovels of their tenants, who were living 14 to a room, if they were lucky. (That is apart from those living in’t shoebox at bottom of lake!)
But the best rooms in the mansions are the portrait galleries. Now in all seriousness, would you hang on the walls in your house a painting of great, great, etc, Uncle Percy and claim to be related to him if he looked like most of them do. Painters then were paid to take some artistic licence when painting your portrait to give you the benefit of soft light, remove unsightly moles, and smooth out the wrinkles etc, but really! Even after all that they still look like they do; a bunch of shelfish, smug, half-mad, chinless wonders. But not even Rembrandt would be able to help most of the family members hanging from the majority of British country house walls when it is more than obvious a good number of their ancestors should have been hanging from a gibbet instead.