Thursday, July 24, 2014

Four Little Things

I'm missing the incentive of writing posts like the '52 Weeks of Happy' blog challenge  that some of us joined in with last year so I've decided that occasionally I will write a post about four little things that have made me smile over the last week.

This week we have been staying close to home as I'm looking after my neighbour's cat.  She's an elderly cat who has to have medication at 6p.m. every day. My popping next door two or three times a day usually disconcerts our cats who think I should just be caring for them but this week in all the heat non of the cats care very much about anything except keeping cool.  We have also been clearing out the shed of years of collected items that may 'one day be useful' - they are now sitting in a skip on the front drive awaiting collection.  Hurrah!  We can now walk into the shed instead of opening the door and everything falling out.

Anyway, here are four things that have made me smile this week:-

We went for a walk at Froghall Wharf on Monday morning and when we got back to the car we sat at a picnic table and opened our flask of coffee we were joined by two little bunnies - so cute!

We walked into the woods and over the ancient pack horse bridge. 

 I love the old, moss covered stones of the bridge which if only it could talk would have tales to tell of all those who have walked over it over hundreds of years.  It was cool and dark down under the bridge and very atmospheric.

Meanwhile, back home in the garden we have water lillies on the pond.  There have been lillies in the pond since we first moved here 17 years ago but I can count on one hand the number of times they have actually flowered - this must be a good year for them.


Flitting over the pond and landing on the garden plants we also have dragonflies - this one stayed around for ages letting me take its photo.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

I'm Still Here

Still here and hopefully getting back to normal after feeling under the weather for the last couple of weeks.  I've also had some sort of allergic reaction to something which caused my eyes and cheeks to swell up and the skin to discolour making it look as if someone had socked me in the eyes.  I don't normally suffer from hay fever and I didn't seem to have the same symptoms as that so I'm not sure what it was all about but as the saying goes  'all things must pass' and eventually it did. Consequently, I haven't felt much like sorting photos or writing posts although I have tried to keep up with commenting on some if not all of your blog posts so huge apologies if I have missed anyone and hopefully I'll be back to normal soon. 

 It seems ages since we were in Scotland but there are still one or two posts I want to write about our visit - first up our 'stop off' visit in Cumbria on the outward journey.

 Just a couple of miles from  the motorway we found the ruins of Shap Abbey.

 We parked the car and walked over the bridge

 It was so quiet and peaceful after the noise and speed of the M6
 The ruins stand next to a working farm but is administered by English Heritage and free to walk around.
 There are still enough foundations left to get a good idea of the layout of the abbey and plenty of interpretation boards to help.

The Abbey was founded c.1200 when monks from a Premonstratension order of white canons, so called because of the white habits they wore, came to Shap.  



The monks of this order chose remote places in which to build their abbeys and apart from the farmhouse and a couple of other buildings on the way down the valley and over the River Lowther to the ruins the area still retained that feeling of remoteness.

  The chickens from the farm had free entry too!

I guess some people do try to climb the walls but some of them looked very fragile and quite dangerous.

Not far away, across the fields in the pretty little village of Keld is another religious building, the very tiny Keld Chapel. 


  We were searching for this chapel when we found Shap Abbey and there is supposed to be a connection between the two buildings.

It was one of those lovely places where trust is high on the agenda as they key to the chapel was on a peg next to the door of the people below.  We collected the key.......

and turned it in the lock....

To discover what was inside.

It was a charming little place and we sat for a while savouring the quiet and the cool darkness inside.  The chapel seems to have quite an interesting history and for most of its life hasn't been a chapel at all.


From about 1698 it was used as a home and through the next couple of centuries passed through many hands, escaped demolition at the hands of  Lord Lonsdale as he said it was in the way of his shooting carriages getting out onto the moors and ended up in the hands of the National Trust who still care for the building.


Some local historians think that it was built as a chantry chapel for Shap Abbey other say that it wasn't.  Apparently there are no records surviving to prove either way as there is no mention of it up to the time of the Dissolution of the Monasteries.  It is thought though, that the building was built of stone from the nearby Abbey.


After returning the key to its hook and a little stroll to the end of the village it was time to leave the peacefully grazing sheep behind


and move on to discover what lies behind this door......


Thursday, July 10, 2014

Heritage Allotments

Before our holiday in Scotland we visited friends in Nottingham and after a lovely lunch we joined a group of friendly and enthusiastic people for a Heritage Tour of the St Anns Allotments in the city. 
 
 If any of you are thinking there is a missing apostrophe - like I was - I've checked both their website and my photos of their banner and that is how it is spelt.

 We all gathered outside the visitor centre with our guides and then made our way up towards the first part of our visit which was the community orchard.

There were quite a few volunteers working in the orchard and it is where most of the community events take place - there is even a pizza oven under the trees.  Apparently they are very popular and tasty.

The site is quite hilly and each of the allotments or gardens are protected by walls or hedges.  The walkways in between are known as Avenues.  This idea stems from when, during the 19th century, the allotments were gardens for the professional and white collar worker families who had moved to live and work in the fast growing city.  A place where they could escape and sit in their garden and take afternoon tea.  Many of the plots still have all or part of the original summer houses.  Formerly known as the Hungerhill Gardens these are the oldest and also largest of this type of Victorian detached gardens and as such are granted a Grade2* listing by English Heritage.

Apart from the community areas most of the plots are private.  We were invited to visit one plot which had one of the old summer houses at the end.  Charlie's plot was full of interesting flowers and vegetables, also chickens, rabbits and guinea pigs which, he told us, belong to his grandchildren.

As you can see it was a very warm afternoon and it seemed to get warmer as we climbed higher to reach the furthest point of the tour - The Heritage Garden.

The Heritage Garden was also known as Oliver's Plot, named after the last person to own and maintain it, a Mr Tom Oliver.

The Heritage garden was right at the top of the hill and had been set out in various eras including a Dig for Victory second world war area.

There were some lovely flowers in the garden including sweet peas, peonies, snap dragons and cosmos as well as an abundance of vegetables, a pond, work sheds and greenhouse.



The gardens are a haven for wildlife.  There were damsel flies buzzing over the pond and many birds and butterflies about too.  Next weekend 18/19/20 July is a Wildlife weekend with moth trapping, pond dipping, bee and butterfly identification and bat and bird walks.  Such a lot of wonderful wildlife right in the city centre.

Above is a view across the allotments or plots to towards the city centre.  There have been garden plots and common lands on this site for around 600 years.  During the 1840s they became popular as pleasure gardens and were used as I mentioned above by workers from the city as a space where they could enjoy garden life and grow their own flowers and vegetables.  The guide told us that flowers were grown far more than vegetables and later, in leaner times,  grown to send to the cut flower markets across the country.

Apparently there are 670 individual garden spaces across the three sites which make up the allotments - Hungerhill Gardens, Stonepit Gardens and Gorsey Bank Gardens.


Below is the restored Victorian greenhouse in the Heritage Garden

  After spending some time in the Heritage Garden we made our way slowly back down one of the hedge lined avenues past the community Orchard and back to the visitor centre.  The tour took about one and a half hours and was relaxed, informative and I think enjoyed by all.  If you live fairly locally and get a chance to visit on another tour day I don't think you will be disappointed as you get a great sense of the gardens of the past whilst appreciating the lively, community lead gardens of the present day.

Saturday, July 05, 2014

This time last week

I'm back!  Hard to imagine that this time last week we were in Scotland.  It seems like only yesterday and at the same time seems ages ago.  We spent a couple of days in Carlisle, a city that I really liked, on the way into Scotland.  I'll write more about what we saw there in a later post.


First stop in Scotland  Gretna and Gretna Green both with a very different history.  That's me standing under the sculpture by Ray Lonsdale perhaps you'll remember him from my post a few weeks ago on the Filey Fisherman?  The sculpture is close to the famous old Blacksmith's Shop and museum at Gretna Green.  We didn't go in the museum but later in the week we did visit a nearby museum which tells of the very different reason behind the building of the nearby town of GretnaAgain this deserves a post in its own right so I'll write more later.


We were staying on the outskirts of the town of Dumfries, where the poet Robert Burns spent the last years of his life.  Unfortunately, his statue was fenced off due to road works the evening we had a stroll around the town. There was so much to see in this part of the country.  Here are just a few glimpses of the places we visited.

Caerlaverock Castle - I just loved this castle so much it was stunning...

....from every angle you could photograph from.  Paul saw a brown hare on the woodland boardwalk here - I missed it as I was too busy looking at butterflies in the opposite direction.


Sweetheart Abbey in the village of New Abbey.   Lady Devorgilla of Galloway, founded the abbey in honour of her husband John Balliol after his death in 1273 and was buried here clutching his embalmed heart which she had carried around wherever she travelled in an ivory casket - so the monks called their monastery Sweetheart Abbey. John de Balliol was an adviser to Henry III and also Sherrif of Nottingham from 1261 to 1262.  After his death his wife, Devorgilla, gave many endowments in his name including Balliol College, Oxford.

  Just a short walk to the other side of the village and you can find the corn mill.




 the people working here were lovely and so welcoming and friendly we had a great time wandering around.

The fish pond near the Mill was formerly the fish pond used by the monks of Sweetheart Abbey.  Apparently red squirrels can be seen in and around the mill's car park and picnic area. I think they were hiding the day we visited or perhaps just not tempted by our picnic lunch.

 However, we did see a red squirrel the next day at the RSPB's reserve at Loch Ken.  It was a long walk from the car park to the bird hides overlooking the loch and I kept thinking we can't expect to walk into the hide and see a red squirrel straight away - but guess what?  We did! It stayed around long enough for us to admire it and photograph it.  


We saw lots of woodpeckers too.  On the loch itself there were many gulls and a few ducks.  There is also a goose viewing platform for when they visit during the autumn and winter. Loch Ken is also on the Galloway Kite Trail and we saw several Red Kites in this area.


We also visited Southerness and walked along the banks of the estuary of the Solway Firth. You can see the Cumbrian hills on the opposite side.


I even managed to bring a bit of family history into the holiday.  My great, great, great grandfather John Young left Scotland sometime in the 1820s and came to work as a tailor in Loughborough in Leicestershire. He married Maria Parkinson there in 1826.  All their children were baptised at the Dead Lane Primitive Methodist Chapel in Loughborough.  He was born in 1803 in Limekilns, Kirkaldy, Fife the son of Alexander Young also a tailor and his wife, formerly Ann Brash.  My great great grandfather was named Alexander as was my grandfather.  So you can see that when I saw the little book and coaster showing the Young tartan I had to make a modest purchase as a souvenir.



I could show you far more photos which I will eventually in future posts and I still haven't told you about our day at the St Anne's Allotments in Nottingham when we were taken on a heritage tour of this most interesting and historic part of the city.  Again another post calls to give full justice to the topic.

For now I'm off to catch up with what has been happening around here and also what you have all been blogging about whilst I have been away.  Since I got back I've been feeling more like the tortoise than the hare so it may take me some time to catch up with everything.  I'll get back to normal very soon I hope.