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Favourite Things: Art Pass, Life Portraits, Raptor Squads and understanding cryptic crosswords

Welcome to this week’s favourite things!

1. Art Pass

Composite image of Bronte Parsonage Museum, Benjamin Franklin House, the Fan Museum and Bletchley Park
Some of the Art Pass places I’ve visited so far – Bronte Parsonage Museum, Benjamin Franklin House, the Fan Museum and Bletchley Park

For Christmas, I bought an Art Pass membership knowing we would be visiting some places in the following year that accepted it.

Working in a similar way to a National Trust membership, your Art Pass gets you free or reduced entry to a huge number of art galleries and museums throughout the country. A lot of the properties are in London but there are plenty throughout the rest of the country too. We used our passes at the Bronte Parsonage Museum in Haworth, Yorkshire and have noticed we can also use it at a few places in and around Nottingham too (the Castle and Newstead Abbey).

It was a bit costly (the first year for a two person membership is £67.50) but we reckon we’ve already saved the cost of the pass back on our visits to: Bronte Parsonage Museum, Bletchley Park, Cutty Sark, Fan Museum, Royal Observatory Greenwich, Foundling Museum, the Gothic exhibition at the British Library and the Benjamin Franklin House Museum. Plus I’ve read that Art Pass members can get free entry to the Tower of London until the 31st August 2015. The Tower of London is amazing and entry is normally £22 so that’s bloomin’ fantastic.

For anyone who likes visiting museums and galleries I would recommend it. Art Pass funds also help to buy art for the participating institutions which is great. Plus you also get a great quarterly magazine. I’m hoping to be able to renew our membership next year.

2. Understanding Cryptic Crosswords

Browsing around the BBC Radio 4 site the other day, I came across an episode of the series ‘David Baddiel Tries to Understand‘ focused on cryptic crosswords. Having tried numerous times to understand them but never managing it despite accidentally getting an answer right once, I immediately gave it a listen.

Turns out there’s all kinds of rules and hints on how to solve them in the definition. Who knew? Well, probably everyone but me.

I’d recommend having a listen (it is only 15 minutes long) and downloading the hint sheets and example crosswords. I can’t say I’ve managed to solve one yet but I’m definitely closer!

3. Raptor Squad

After going to see Jurassic World the other day (it was… fine), I’m a bit obsessed (along with the rest of the internet) with the Raptor Squad.

4. Life Portraits: Jane Austen, Virginia Woolf and Coco Chanel

Jane Austen (Life Portraits)
Jane Austen (Life Portraits)

I’m loving the look of this Life Portraits series from Zena Alkayat and Nina Cosford. I discovered them on the brilliant blog Stuck in a Book this morning and they are now on my Amazon wishlist.

It looks like Jane Austen and Virginia Woolf are currently available with Coco Chanel to follow.

The illustrations look so pretty.

5. GIF of the week: Troy from Community

We’re re-watching the TV show, Community, from the start at the minute in the evenings.

In honour of this, I had to include some classic Troy:


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