Tiny Hippo in the Silver Galleries at the Victoria and Albert Museum

There are tons of great things to see when visiting the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. The silver galleries beautifully house an exquisite collection of silver. The most spectacular way to enter the galleries is by the Ceramic Staircase which provide a glimpse into the original designs of the museum and the founding desire to focus on design as well as craft.

The Ceramic Staircase is a remarkable entrance to the Silver Galleries

The Ceramic Staircase is as functional as it is fanciful, and no one minds if a tiny hippo slides down the banister; in fact, a small crowd formed while this hippo slid gleefully down the railing

Once you reach the Silver Galleries be sure to note the two Minton ceramic clad columns that were reconstructed after a discovery of some of the original tiles in the museum’s basement.

Minton ceramic column in the Silver Galleries

There are many strange and delightful trinkets on display in the Silver Galleries.

These sharp bird scissors are just one of the many whimsical things that live in the silver gallery

There are a wide variety of miniature silver pieces in the collection, many of which were designed for children.

While children may have been the intended users of these pieces, one should not negate the ways in which a tiny hippo could take advantage of them, if only someone would open the case for him

There are a number of hands on activities in the Silver Galleries.

Playing hide and seek in the silver steins is a favorite game for any hippo visiting the galleries

There is also a great activity where you can make your own hallmark, just like those found on real silver.

One can first view real hallmarks through magnifier glass on the works displayed in the galleries before trying to create a hallmark

Here is the process for creating your own hallmark.

Place the silvery disc under the press, be sure to center it evenly

Apply all your force on the lever

Retrieve your treasure, it is your badge of honor for a wonderful visit to the Silver Galleries at the Victoria and Albert Museum

The Silver Galleries at the Victoria and Albert Museum provide a wonderful display of imagination and creativity. I would highly recommend a trip to this museum and a playful exploration of the Silver Galleries, located on the third floor.

Cill Chriosd (Christ’s Church or “Kilchrist”), Isle of Skye

Cill Chriosd or Kilchrist meaning Christ’s Church is a ruined pre-Reformation parish church of Strathaird, Isle of Skye, Scotland. The first written record of the church located at this site is from 1505 when Kenneth Adamson succeeded John MacGillivray as chaplain. The parish was used by the community until 1840 when a new building was established in the near-by town of Broadford.

The path leading up to Cill Chriosd

These ruins are so very quiet and calm, the only noise that one will hear is the bahs of lambs calling to their moms.

The ruins are located next to a single-track road, surrounded by the omnipresent sheep.

To enter the ruins, one passes through a small iron gate that is often left open, as can be seen by the neatly trimmed grass, a hallmark of the free-range sheep of the area.

Iron gate leading to the ruins of Cill Chriosd

Here you can see the meticulously maintained grass, thanks to the sheep

Sheep are not the only visitors to the ruins, this bird watched us while we explored the grounds

Bird taking flight from the ruins

We loved the way this tree has become part of the ruins

Looking towards the burial enclosure

East end of Cill Chriosd,showing the burial enclosure

The burial enclosure of the parish looking toward Beinn na Caillich (Red Hills)

Looking through the entrance to the burial enclosure up to Beinn na Caillich

The Red Hills and the sheep add a comforting and strangely desolate feeling to these ruins.

Cill Chriosd, solemn and serene

This little lamb was perfectly at home in the shadows of the ruins of Cill Chriosd

Cill Chriosd is an understated attraction, the only reason that we stumbled upon it was because we were staying just a few minutes up the road from it at Swordale House, a delightful bed and breakfast that I would recommend to anyone staying on the Isle of Skye.

This picture was taken from just outside the ruins, the building in the distance is Swordale House

While Cill Chriosd does not offer the most spectacular of ruins, it is an impressive monument to hundreds of years of religious island life. You will not have to fight the crowds to explore this wonderful site, so be sure to stop by.

Cill Chriosd is about two miles from Broadford village on the B8083 road to Elgol.

The Needles, Isle of Wight

The Needles is a unique row of chalk stacks that rise out of the sea off of the western edge of the Isle of Wight, England. When we went to view them, the wind was so strong that I was rather concerned that we would get whisked away. At one point my husband’s camera strap was blown off his neck (this concerned him more than being near the edge of a cliff even though he is terrified of heights).

The Needles, standing strong against the wind and the waves

The little building at the end of the Needles is a lighthouse that was built in 1859

The Needles, marching out to sea

The Needles are an amazing sight and well worth a visit, just be sure to hold on to your camera if the wind is up.

Kew Palace, The Dutch House

Kew Place is a lovely brick manor house located in the Kew Botanical Gardens, London.

Kew Palace, was once known as the “Dutch House” because of its Dutch gables

The perfectly maintained hedges and topiaries add a key architectural feature to this property

The Queen’s Garden is a formal garden that lies behind Kew Palace

The plants in the Queen’s Garden are those grown in Britain before and during the 17th century.

The symmetrical lines of Kew Palace are mirrored in plantings of the Queen’s Garden

This mallard liked the tranquility offered by this pond in the Queen’s Garden. The statue in the center of the pond is a copy of Verocchio’s ‘Boy with a Dolphine.’

This Venetian well head is a focal-point of the parterre garden

This marble satyr stands guard next to a leafy hallway

Looking west down the leafy hallway in the Queen’s Garden

We found the exterior of Kew Palace and the Queen’s Garden to be a wonderfully tranquil retreat from the rest of the gardens. The Queen’s Garden is one of the more structured outdoor gardens at Kew, making it a great location for traditional photography.

Kew Gardens: Golden Pheasant Don’t Give a Hoot

We discovered this strange fellow near the Minka House in Kew Gardens, England. He was not disturbed by anything. Most people didn’t even notice him because he was so quiet. One man almost stepped on him, that’s how nonchalant this Golden Pheasant was.

Golden Pheasant at Kew Gardens doesn’t give a hoot

He will leave when he wants to, don’t mind him.

Kew Gardens: The Adventure Continues

At Kew Gardens there is a lovely pair of Canada Geese who are very protective of their little ones.

Here they are starting off their morning stroll down the path.

The geese with a little one

The wee goslings would often stop on their walk to examine their surroundings.

Mama says, “Don’t stare at the strange man with the camera, dear.”

Mama would often give here brood tips on how to behave in public.

“Just walk along and ignore any strangers you might happen to meet.”

The morning stroll was enlivened when papa goose discovers a treasure.

“I found something!”

The little ones dashed over to see what papa had discovered.

“How is it? Is it good?”

After papa goose nodded his approval the little ones crowded in to get a taste of the delicious orange bread.

“What a great treat!”

But all was not well, for in Kew Gardens lurks naughty Raven, who is always stealing everyone’s snacks. Today was no exception, Raven was on the prowl for tasty pieces of bright orange bread!

Becoming more famished by the minute, Raven watched the goslings devour the scrumptious orange bread.

But mama and papa goose saw Raven watching them and were having none of his monkey business.

Mama and papa goose honked and hollered at Raven, but he did not leave.

Of course, Raven was too proud to be scared off by a bit of goose chatter, he dove in to claim his orange prize!

Papa goose saw Raven coming and stood his ground.

However, Raven was very hungry, a puny indignant goose would not detour him.

So, papa had to chase after Raven

And chase…

And flap…

And he even puffed himself up so that Raven would be frightened of him, puffing-up was papa’s secret weapon.

Finally, Raven gave up. Papa duck was very proud and strutted back to mama goose.

Papa goose proclaimed to mama and the frightened little ones, “Puffing-up always does the trick!”

With the naughty Raven out-of-the-way, the family was able to seek out and enjoy their yummy orange bread.

The wee goslings could not find the bread on their own, mama had to show them where to find it.

Once they had found the tidbit, mama goose sampled it to make sure it was still good for the little ones.

“Mmm… yes, that will do.”

Once mama gave her approval it was a free-for-all, the wee ones fought as vigorously for the bread crumbs as Raven had.

“What’s that there! No, don’t, I saw it first!”

“Aww! Come back here!”

Peace was restored, as it always is, when all the food had filled the tiny bellies.

“Come dears, its time to continue on our walk.”

All the little ones said yes mama, hoping that around the next bend would be more amazing bright orange bread.

Summer Salad with Blueberry Vinaigrette

With all the great produce that summer has to offer there is nothing better than a delicious salad full of crunchy veggies and sweet berries topped with an amazing blueberry vinaigrette.

Summer Salad:

1 English cucumber, sliced

1 red bell pepper, quartered and then sliced

1/2 pint blueberries

12 ounces strawberries, quartered

1 bunch of radishes, sliced thinly (use a mandolin or V slicer)

1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved

1 package of baby spring greens

Once you have cut all the produce just through all the ingredients in a large bowl and toss.

The different colored radishes used here all taste like regular ones, but they are so much cuter

The best part of this salad is the amazing blueberry vinaigrette. We discovered this recipe after we came back from our local you-pick blueberry farm and realized we needed something to do with six pounds of blueberries. A Veggie Venture blog recipe came to our rescue. We have changed the recipe a tiny bit, for the original just click here: Blueberry Vinaigrette Recipe.

Blueberry Vinaigrette:

1/2 cup fresh blueberries (freshly picked is best)

1 clove garlic, minced

1 teaspoon minced onion

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons blueberry juice (POM blueberry juice is good)

In your blender, mix the blueberries, garlic, onion, red wine vinegar, and juice together. Once the mixture has been liquified drizzle in the olive oil, whip in blender until combined. That’s it, the best dressing you will ever make, seriously. A word of warning, the vinaigrette will turn into a jello like mass if you don’t use it right away, if this happens just add more juice and spin it up in the blender, or eat it with a spoon while your husband is distracted.

Blueberry vinaigrette drizzled over a crisp summer salad

Drizzle the vinaigrette onto the summer salad and enjoy! This salad pairs perfectly with our Sweet and Spicy Chicken Wings.

The perfect summer meal