Beatrix Potter

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If you ever wondered how Beatrix Potter got the inspiration to draw such incredibly adorable animals in such beautiful, charming settings you need only go to the village Near Sawrey in the Lake District where she lived in a house called Hill Top Farm .

Born into a wealthy Unitarian family, Potter, along with her younger brother Walter Bertram (1872–1918), grew up with few friends outside her large extended family. Her parents were artistic, interested in nature and enjoyed the countryside. As children, Beatrix and Bertram had numerous small animals as pets which they observed closely and drew endlessly. Summer holidays were spent away from London, in Scotland and in the English Lake District where Beatrix developed a love of the natural world which was the subject of her painting from an early age.

She was educated by private governesses until she was 18. Her study of languages, literature, science and history was broad and she was an eager student. Her artistic talents were recognized early. She enjoyed private art lessons, and developed her own style, favouring watercolor. Along with her drawings of her animals, real and imagined, she illustrated insects, fossils, archaeological artefacts, and fungi. In the 1890s her mycological illustrations and research into the reproduction of fungus spores generated interest from the scientific establishment. Following some success illustrating cards and booklets, Potter wrote and illustrated The Tale of Peter Rabbit, publishing it first privately in 1901, and a year later as a small, three-colour illustrated book with Frederick Warne & Company.
With the proceeds from the books and a legacy from an aunt, Potter bought Hill Top Farm in Near Sawrey, a tiny village in the English Lake District near Windermere, in 1905. Over the following decades, she purchased additional farms to preserve the unique hill country landscape.

Potter published over 23 books: the best known are those written between 1902 and 1922. She died of pneumonia/heart disease on 22 December 1943 at her home in Near Sawrey at age 77, leaving almost all her property to the National Trust. She is credited with preserving much of the land that now comprises the Lake District National Park.

Flower Power!

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It is always good to work with friends who are so incredibly creative and fun to work with.We  just had a 60’s party for the Concord Museum and called it” Flower Power”. We had a lot of fun digging out old albums and other memorabilia from the 60’s,buying macrame baskets,pillows and lava lamps and saving wine bottles to put candles in(who doesn’t remember doing that??!). Maryann had the great idea of constructing a VW bus over the doorway that lead to the patio where the bar was and also painted big flowers on each tablecloth in bright yellow,green,pink and orange.We decided to use only daisies for the flowers and my friend Judy constructed(with others helping) these beautiful centerpieces as well as the big peace sign that went over the mantle of our venue. It was a very fun evening with loads of dancing to those old familiar tunes!

Ambleside in the Lakes

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We drove up to the Lake District for a few days and stayed at a hotel very near to Ambleside called Holbeck Ghyll. It was a beautiful hotel and the food and service was amazing. The first day we hiked to Ambleside along a beautiful path-saw sheep,beautiful stone houses and had gorgeous views.
Ambleside, one of the jewels of the Lakes, is set in the center of the Lake District at the head of Lake Windermere. Blessed with beautiful scenery, this bustling market town provides everything a visitor could want from the numerous shops offering wares for walkers and climbers, to the many drinking and eating establishments.Ambleside is rich with history and heritage. Originally containing a Roman fort (Fort Galava, the remains of which can be seen in Borran’s field, Waterhead), Ambleside has always been an important area of the Lake District.Buildings such as the 17th century Bridge House, one of the smallest houses in Britain, jostle with the Ambleside Museum (home to many Beatrix Potter artefacts) to hold the attention of visitors and offer an interesting insight into local life. Nearby is Stock Ghyll Force, a beautiful waterfall,  which provides another stunning natural attraction.An ideal base for a walking holiday, Ambleside has easy access to the surrounding fells and breathtaking mountains. For the less energetic, there are strolls along the shore, boat trips on the lake and a fantastic collection of interesting visitor attractions. Shoppers are well catered for also with an abundance of outdoor retail outlets, craft shops and galleries.

Punting On The Backs in Cambridge

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Behind the main line of colleges in Cambridge, along the River Cam, are the Backs (so-called from being the backs of the colleges). Each college owns its own part of the river banks, so it is not possible to walk along the river by the Backs, but you can walk through the college  and cross the river by their bridges. The public  bridges are Magdalene Bridge (pronounced ‘maudlin’), Garret Hostel Bridge (pedestrian and bike only) and Silver Street Bridge. You can walk along Queen’s Road, catching glimpses of the colleges through the trees. The best way to see the Backs is from a punt, a flat bottomed boat which is poled along.

Many tourists visit Cambridge each year to see the historic university, its buildings and the beautiful Backs. King’s College Chapel is the most famous building in Cambridge.

Cambridge University is made up of different colleges, some of which have old and beautiful buildings. The colleges’ buildings are usually arranged around courts. It is possible to walk round some of these and visit chapels and halls.  There are also many fabulous restaurants and great shopping. It is a wonderful day trip if you happen to be in the area!

London In March

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April in Paris maybe, but London in March proved to be just as beautiful. We were there last week and I was completely surprised at how perfect the weather was and how much was in bloom. It made it doubly hard to come back to snowy New England!

Roof Lines-The Building of A House

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I am helping a client build a house on a beautiful piece of property here in Concord. While it is thrilling,exciting and all that, there are loads of decisions to be made.

Foremost in their minds is to create a house that looks like it was always there. The property is on an old historic road surrounded by low stone walls,beautiful old maples and gorgeous meadows. The last thing they want to do is look like they have disrupted the landscape and plopped a house in the middle of it.

One of things we are all discussing now is the roof line…should they do a hip roof or a pitched roof?Which is more appropriate for a farm setting? The pitch roof seems more like a farm house but the way the architect has drawn the proposed house with a hip roof , the front elevation  looks a little smaller and more interesting. I also checked out the history in New England regarding this because they want the house to be historically correct. There seems to be an equal split as to the popularity of both, although you do see more of the pitched roof in a country setting.

Thank Heaven for GPS!

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If there was ever a justification needed for space technology, it’s that it keeps people like me from constantly being lost. These days, my car GPS and iphone are much better than me at getting around thanks to a fleet of satellites that tells them where they are at all times.

Though not a particularly romantic anniversary, last month marks 25 years since the first satellite in the U.S. Global Positioning System launched from Cape Canaveral, beginning the set up for one of the wonders of the modern world. In the two and a half decades since then, GPS has become inextricably embedded into just about everything we own, finding use in cartography, smart phone apps, geotagging and geocaching, disaster relief, and hundreds of other applications, while simultaneously raising privacy concerns.

GPS relies on at least 24 satellites flying 20,000 kilometers overhead in one of six different orbital paths, tracing out what looks like a toy model of an atom. With their solar panels extended, each of these 1-ton satellites is about the same size as a giraffe. At any given moment, each satellite beams out a signal identifying itself and giving its time and location.

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A model showing the 24 original GPS satellites in orbit and a point on the Earth rotating. Animation: El pak/Wikimedia

Your GPS-enabled phone or car captures that signal and compares the time it was received to the time it was transmitted. A quick calculation involving the speed of light allows the device to figure out the distance to that satellite. If you have your distance to two or three satellites, you can triangulate your position on the Earth. When all the GPS satellites are working, a user always has at least four in view, allowing them to determine things like altitude, speed, and direction.

In September of 1973, the top brass met at the Pentagon and came up with what would eventually become known as the Navigation System Using Timing and Ranging program, called Navstar-GPS, which was later shortened to just GPS. Between 1978 and 1985, the military launched 11 satellites (10 of which worked) to test the new GPS system.

After Korean Air Lines  flight 007 was shot down in 1983 for wandering into prohibited U.S.S.R. airspace, President Reagan promised that GPS would be opened up for civilian use on passenger aircraft once it was completed. The first GPS satellite in the modern fleet launched on Feb. 14, 1989. The Air Force had planned to use the space shuttle for this launch in 1986 but was delayed by the Challenger disaster and eventually used a Delta II rocket. The full GPS fleet was completed in 1994 and now at least 32 satellites are in orbit to provide redundancy. During the same time, the Russians developed and launched GLONASS, which works on principles similar to GPS, and is currently the only alternative location-finding system in the world.

At its beginning, the U.S. military feared that GPS technology would be used by enemies, and purposely degraded civilian information so that it could only provide accurate location information to within 100 meters. In 2000, President Clinton had this feature turned off and now civilian devices are usually accurate to within 5 to 10 meters. The European Union and China are currently building their own global navigation systems, known as Galileo and Beidou, respectively, that will serve as further alternatives to GPS in the coming decade. It seems likely that folks in the future will never have to worry about being lost again.

excerpts from Wikepedia and Adam Mann in Map Lab article