/ Scotland2017

Clockwork Swan

A simple day today. Wander down into Barnard Castle and take a look round, go to the Bowes Museum and Castle.

A slow start, partly because, surprisingly, is very hot. Up to 23° or thereabouts. Traveling in May is always so unpredictable. It was so cold at the start of this trip and now just two weeks or so later we are sweltering.

By the time we'd wandered into town, and shopped it was 1pm. The Bowes Museum is on the edge of town and Liz was particularly keen to visit as they had a display of costume through the ages and also some information about conserving costumes. They did had the former and very good it was too but, sadly, not the latter. Still we had forgotten about the famous Bowes silver swan

Three separate clockwork mechanisms, one for the music which plays one of seven tunes, a different tune for each day of the week. One to control the swan's neck and mouth and one to control the little glittering, leaping fish in front of the swan.

Built in 1773, or as the guide pointed out 3 years older than the USA, it is a wonder of the automata genius of the day. Amazing that it has been restored and can play daily (2pm) in the museum. The only other similar automata from that period is a peacock in The Hermitage, St. Petersburg which only gets set into motion once a year. A delight to watch, even if the whole performance lasts a brief 30 seconds.

Coming down the stairs to exit the museum we are behind a couple of ladies of our age and one cautions Liz not to walk too close behind her as she is imagining coming down the stairs in a beautiful flowing ballgown and she would hate Liz to trip on the hem! Of course I go and spoil the moment by reminding her that at midnight it all be rags again and her coach will be a pumpkin! Rotten spoilsport, me!

Not enough time to visit the castle as well. We have to be back for 5 - the chip van's coming! Ah, the simple joys of life.