Sunday, April 28, 2013

52 Weeks of Happy - Week Seventeen

Some of the things I have seen this week that have made me smile........

1.  Wallflowers and flowers on walls - both photos taken at Cromford Mill, Cromford, Derbyshire

 2. Growth in our greenhouse - courgettes and tomatoes on the way!

 3. Shadows - images of an industrial past,  photos taken at Cromford Mill, Cromford, Derbyshire in brilliant sunshine after a really heavy downpour of rain.

 4. 34 years -a little celebration for our anniversary which included a trip out to somewhere we last visited on my birthday in 2008 - some images of the day below and a more detailed post to follow.

Link to  Little Birdie  where  '52 weeks of Happy' started. Each week you find just four things that have made you happy to share. 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Jackson's Coppice and Marsh Nature Reserve

We have been members of the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust for nearly four years now and although we'd visited their headquarters at The Wolseley Centre near Stafford and their Visitor Centre at Westport Lake here in the city quite a few times, we hadn't visited many of their other reserves, other than Parrot's Drumble which I wrote about - here, until earlier this year when we visited Loynton Moss which I wrote a post about a couple of months ago -  here.
Just over a week ago we explored another of their nature reserves which was quite close to the walled garden at Sugnall which I wrote about a couple of posts ago.   Jackson's Coppice and Marsh nature reserve is close to the village of Walk Mill, there is a small car park (it will probably take only three well parked cars) just up a lane before the Mill house and pond.  The entrance is through a wildflower meadow and there are two walks - round the marshland and in the woodland.

You pass some of the marshy areas as you cross the road to go into the coppice.  It was so peaceful up amongst the trees, birds singing and bees buzzing and the forest floor full of flowers like

Wood Anemone - a carpet of white stars under the trees

The small dainty heads of the shy Wood Sorrel

Lesser Celandine in great profusion in places

and the first signs of the bright blue of the native Bluebells given another week the flowers should be out all over the coppice

The air was warm and the sky quite blue in places

We traced our steps back to the meadow and down to the boardwalk around the marshland

 There were loads of sedge tussocks in Jackson's marsh

 A little inquisitive friend came to say hello as we sat awhile on a seat that will be a super place to watch for dragonflies in the summer.

 The alder wetland wasn't all that wet at this time of year

Most of the wetland was full of clumps of bright yellow Marsh Marigold.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

52 Weeks of Happy - Week Sixteen

Here are four happy moments from the last week - things that have cheered me up and made me smile

1.  Postal Delivery - of a package full of beautiful things.   I was so lucky to be chosen to receive the super give-away offered by Simone who makes these beautiful pieces of jewellery herself with such thought to detail and colour, I'm afraid that my photos don't do them justice.  I'm thrilled with both the bracelet and the pendant.  Do pop along to see Simone's work on her blog at Linden Grove and also in her on-line shop  Thank you, Simone!

2.  Theatre Visit - we usually have to travel to Stratford to see the RSC but this week they came to Stoke with their touring production of The Winter's Tale, and with the blustery wind in the city centre on Wednesday evening it did feel that we had taken a step back to winter, but all was cosy and warm in the theatre.  It was a wonderful production and the set was amazing.  We had a lovely evening and the three hours plus of the performance went by so quickly.

3. Nesting Birdsat home.....  We have wrens nesting in a bird box at the back of the house.  We can sit in the conservatory and watch the little birds land in the branches of the tree, their beaks full of moss and then position themselves up to make the flight to the little hole in the wooden house which they have lined with moss and other garden bits and pieces.  I took the photo of one of the wrens through the window.

and away...... a Grebe sitting on its nest on the Mill Lake at The Lawns Pleasure Grounds, Sutton-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire. 

4.  First Butterfly - of the season,  a Peacock resting on one of the walls around the raised beds in the garden.  The sun was warm enough for it to open its wings and stay awhile - just long enough for me to take its photo.

Link to  Little Birdie  where  '52 weeks of Happy' started. Each week you find just four things that have made you happy to share. 

Friday, April 19, 2013

Within these Walls

It felt a couple of degrees warmer inside the mellow red brick walls of the kitchen garden belonging to Sugnall Hall. The garden can be found just off the road which runs between Eccleshall and Loggerheads in Staffordshire.  We used to travel along this road quite often when we first moved to this part of the country back in the mid 1990s because we rented a house in a village nearby until we bought our house up here in the city. 

For the last three years the present owners have been trying to reinstate the garden by following its original layout from when it was first established in 1738 by Lord Glenorchy the then owner of the estate

Apparently in 1737 local brick makers set up a brick making site in a field close to the old hall and made over 250,000 bricks to build the walls.

The walls are now home to many espaliered fruits trees of amazing variety and as you walk around you get a sense of what a hive of industry it must have been in its heyday producing food for the estate.

I was amazed at the huge variety of apple and pear trees around the garden some of them with lovely old names, long forgotten, but now growing here again.  Everywhere inside you get a sense of  a very special work in progress
 Of course with Spring being tardy this year the garden was waiting for the warmer weather so it could burst into action, soon there will be blossom on the fruit trees

Followed by signs of the first fruits and the purple of the lavender edging all the central beds.  We are going to return to see it then as it's going to look wonderful.
We had a cup of coffee in the little tea shop which uses produce from the garden and estate and browsed the lovely things the shop has on sale.  You can call in there without going into the garden and there is an honesty box for donations of £2 per person which is money well spent.  There is a car park at the business park across the road.   After our visit we set off to a nearby nature reserve for another walk.  I'll  post about that later.

Hope you all have a lovely weekend!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

St Oswald's Church, Ashbourne

At the moment the church interior  is undergoing lots of work to update and improve the wiring and lighting so when we visited recently the nave was full of scaffolding with men working high up in the ceiling.   We visit the town of Ashbourne quite often and have many times driven by and walked by the church but had never been inside.  The author George Eliot once declared the spire 'one of the finest in England' and the church yard  is like a small nature reserve in the middle of the town.
It is quite a large church, almost cathedral like inside and there are lots of interesting historic monuments to see in the Boothby Chapel in the North Transept which was where we headed once we were inside.

I'd left my usual camera behind and only had my little camera in my bag but I think that the images aren't too bad considering as the lighting wasn't too great.   Here are some of the monuments mostly to the local families of Cokayne and Bradbourne.

Above is the tomb of Sir Humphrey Bradbourne who died in 1581 and his wife Elizabeth

Around the tomb are carvings of the couple's six sons and six daughters - the three seen below in 'chrisoms' represent the three who died in infancy.

Below is a detail from the foot of the carving

Below is the tomb of Sir John Cokayne of Ashbourne who died in 1447 and his wife Margaret

The carving below of is of John Bradbourne and his wife Ann Vernon.  The faces had been defaced but had be reconstructed with what looked like a plastic resin.

Below the effigies are of Sir John Cokayne who died in 1372 and his son Sir Edmund Cokayne who died in 1403 at the Battle of Shrewsbury fighting for King Henry IV.

The brass monument  below is to Francis Cokayne, his wife Dorothy and their six children.

The most poignant of the tomb carvings is a later one to five year old Penelope Boothby.  It was carved by the sculptor Thomas Banks from Carrara marble.  I remember on a trip to Tuscany being taken up into the hills to see the marble quarry at Carrara.  On the day of her funeral it rained heavily so, according to 'Matters of Life and Death' by George Shaw, six little girls carried the coffin and six little boys walked with umbrellas.  Penelope was a much loved child and was painted aged 4 by the artist Sir Joshua Reynolds.

It is said that when the little girl died her parents separated and never spoke to one another again.  Her father Sir Brooke Boothby wrote sonnets to the little girl after her death at Ashbourne Hall in 1791.   Here is a  link  to more about Penelope and Sir Brooke Boothby it is quite a tragic tale. I'd heard of Sir Brooke Boothby in connection with the members of the Lunar Society so was intrigued to find out more about him.
 Next time we visit I want to take a longer look at some of the tomb stones in the church yard.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

52 weeks of Happy - Week Fifteen

Here are four things that have made me smile this week...........

1.  Little gold bird - on the Chinese Pagoda at Biddulph Grange Gardens - photos taken when we visited on Wednesday 10th April.   See my last post about our visit.

2.  Stained glass window - over the entrance to St Oswald's Church, Ashbourne - photos taken when we visited on Friday 12th April, I have a post about the memorials in the church scheduled for next week.

3. Runner ducks - at the walled kitchen garden at Sugnall Hall which we visited on Saturday 13th April. Post about the garden to follow later next week.There are four ducks two dark feathered ones and two pale ones. One of the paler ducks was confined to its run and shed as it had a small injury to its leg, it was protesting a bit about being alone.

4. Plants and Flowers - The blues of the Muscari and Anemone contrast well with the orange of the primula.  The sweet peas are grown from seed - I'm looking forward to their flowers this summer.

Link to  Little Birdie  where  '52 weeks of Happy' started. Each week you find just four things that have made you happy to share.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Back to Biddulph

I know that I've blogged about Biddulph Grange Gardens more than once* over the years, we usually visit once or twice every year, so I hope you'll forgive me for taking you back there again.  The gardens are our nearest National Trust property and are often our first visit of the new season.  Of course, things are way behind this year in the gardens because of the weather, there were still many snowdrops around and the daffodils were just emerging but we also saw the first rhododendron flowers of the year too.

When we arrived there was a slight mist in the air and a few droplets of rain spattered across the car windscreen and you will see from some of the photos that it was quite a dull day but halfway though our visit we felt the air change;  it suddenly felt warmer and then the sun peeked through.

In the car park there was much building activity.  We wondered if they were making a new reception area because when we got up to the house the room next to the shop, normally used to receive visitors, now had tables and chairs and was being used as an extension to the tea rooms.  Normally we just wander through and out into the garden but this time we stopped to look and took a couple of photos of the interior, it is rather beautiful!

You can see the other half of the room reflected in the mirrors

Out in the gardens everything was looking well-tended, the were hedges clipped very neatly.

We followed the paths around the different areas of the garden - the tree root walk is one of my favourites!  Left or right? 

 Right leads you to the Chinese garden which I've shown you  in previous posts.

We wandered through the tunnel that leads from the Chinese garden to the Glen and round to the large area at the back.

Here we sat and ate our lunch of cheese and chutney rolls, grapes and coffee.

Opposite our seat was a newly roped off area which looked as if it was full of  daffodils.  After lunch we went over to investigate.

Ah, it is going to be a daffodil maze - when the flowers finally bloom it will look wonderful - I bet the gardeners had hoped this would have been ready for the Easter weekend.

I see Mr Mole has cheated and gone underground to find the middle!

After lunch we walked up the Wellingtonia Walk, around the woodland walk  and had a browse in the second hand book shop as well as the geology gallery - unfortunately this is still in a state of restoration and the fossils had still not been returned to their place in the walls.  The volunteer on duty in there told us it would be a while yet before they would be replaced, possibly by replicas so that the originals wouldn't be damaged any further.  Below are some more photos I took on our walk around the garden.

A lovely reflection in the fish pond

Monkey Puzzle Trees in the Arboretum

This huge urn stands at the top of the Wellingtonia walk

We saw three different cats around the gardens and thought that they must belong to the people who live in the appartments in the house.  What a wonderful back garden they have to play in.

*I've just had a look back at my previous posts about Biddulph Grange and I've written about it five times before so  I've tried to include some different photos this time.