Friday, May 17, 2024

A Quick Friday Five

It's been a week of sunshine and showers.  Walks have been taken and some gardening done but often it has been too wet.

Yesterday was a wet day, very wet in fact.  We travelled over to Beeston, Nottingham to vist friends and have lunch out for an eightieth birthday.  A Sicilian restaurant was chosen and a lovely meal was eaten over a couple of relaxing hours.  We all ate something different.   I had vegetarian Parmigiana, lots of lovely Aubergines in rich tomato sauce with homemade bread slices, and after a Lemon Tiramisu.  

It was very wet outside but inside it felt warm and sunny. 

Last week we visited Buxton in Derbyshire.  It was quite a dry day so we were able to wander around.  I took a few photos in the hot houses at the Pavilion.  More in a later post.

The Wisteria Arch at Trentham Gardens is looking wonderful at the moment.

Photos taken on this morning's walk.

That is one of the famous Fantasy Wire fairies hanging upside down at the end of the arch.

I recently received a lovely gift of knitted flowers. 

They are infused with a gentle scent and are so colourful. thank you so much, you know who you are.
Finally plants are growing and ready to be planted in the garden. 

Sweet peas, Helenium, Lupin and Dahlia.
All for now.

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

White and Pink

 Hedgerows are looking alive again, trees have bright green leaves.  Cow parsley sways in the breeze and covers the verges on highways and canal towpaths.

As well as cow parsley there seem to be lots of daisies.

From a distance the ones above in Pavillion Gardens, Buxton looked like a covering of light snow.

May blossom adorns the hedges
There's also still plenty of Wild Garlic around too.
Also fields (and gardens) full of Dandelion clocks.

Meanwhile back home in the garden things are looking pink.

Rhododendron 'Dreamland'.



 Clematis Montana
and London Pride.

Saturday, May 11, 2024

Seen or heard

Listening to the dawn chorus.  

We used the Merlin app to see what was around the garden at 7am on 1st May.  Paul can hear all the birds but I'm afraid with a slight hearing loss and tinnitus I can only pick up the sound of the Wood Pigeon and Herring Gull.  Also Crows and Magpies sometimes.  The days of waking up to the Robin and Blackbird singing are gone.  Once I'm outside I can hear them if they are nearby, especially when out on walks.  


Up on the local fields and nature reserve we picked up the call of an amazing number of birds, again some I could hear and some I couldn't.  

 We heard Blackcap (spotted) Robin, Sedge warbler, Blackbird, Skylark (spotted), Willow Warbler, Wren and Reed Warbler (spotted).  No photos as we didn't take cameras. The air was dry and warm and Orange tip butterfies flitted here and there and there were lots of those black flies with long dangling legs which are apparently  called St Mark's Flies.  All this no more than ten minutes walk from home.

Foxy was spotted in the garden on a couple of warm evenings.  No sign of any cubs yet.  I've never forgotten the time, a few years ago, when one of the foxes carried all five of her cubs, one by one, across our garden to a second den on the other side of our hedge after their original den was disturbed by building work in gardens not far away.

I'm pleased that she is looking healthy, we've noticed she sometimes brings a friend with her, another female.  They respect one another so I think they are either mother and daughter or sisters.  We hear the foxes call sometimes, a sharp bark.  Also the badgers can be heard churring and purring as they go about their business of digging worms out of the grass.  Sometimes there is a bit of banter between fox and badger.  The foxes are always wary of badgers around their cubs. 

 All for now.

Monday, May 06, 2024

Out and About

 It was a beautiful day last Tuesday, dry and sunny.  We went to Shugborough Hall near Stafford to have a look around.  Mostly the grounds and gardens but we did pop into the Servant's Quarters.  I always enjoy those parts of any stately home the most.

The front of the Mansion House taken from the walk across parkland from the car park.

Southdown Sheep and lambs, a tiny one had escaped and staff were trying to get it back into the fold.  Apparently Southdown sheep first arrived at Shugborough in 1700, given as a wedding present.

The River Sow flows through the estate at Shugborough on it's way to meet the River Trent somewhere near the Essex Bridge.

 An old boat house close to the river.

 The facade of the Servant's Quarters.  Bluebells in front and Wisteria growing on it's walls.

 Inside the parlour where the various house servants would have their meals.  The butler at at the top of the table.

Each plate had a name of a servant who had worked there according to the 1871 Census.  Their yearly wage on the plate.  The butler John Crisp earned £100 a year and one of the housemaids Jane Thurman earned £18 a year.

There is a huge laundry area, two rooms one for washing and the other for ironing, sewing and mending.

Flat irons and goffering irons which were used for ruffles.
Dresses for the servants.  Laundry maids wore blue and kitchen maids wore pink.  This enabled the housekeeper to spot if a maid was in an area she shouldn't be in.

The kitchens are across a large courtyard.

Everything looked spick and span.  
There was a French Chef.  The kitchen maids lined up each morning to greet him with Good Morning Monsieur.

The chef cooked meals for the occupants of the Mansion House whilst other kitchen workers cooked for the houshold servants and staff.

It wasn't the first time we'd visited Shugborough and I hope it won't be the last.  Each visit we find new things to admire.  One of my favourite buildings The Farmhouse was closed to visitors as were the Lichfield Apartments in the Mansion House.  Everything else was as I remembered.

Friday, April 26, 2024

Five for Friday

 Seems ages since I did a Friday five so here goes.

Tulips - this bunch of Tulips has lasted for ages.  I love the different colours together.  A bargain from Aldi for days of visual delight.  They have gone all gangly and sculptural now and some petals are dropping. It will soon be time to say goodbye to them.

Foxes - We popped up to the Peak Wildlife Park to renew our membership and went straight to see the Artic Foxes.  There are four of them now and all in their winter coats. I like the way that they always seem to be smiling.

At home Mrs Fox is a regular visitor to the garden as she takes time out for a rest from guarding her cubs.  Not a great photo as it was dusk and she was right at the top of the garden.

Talking of Mrs Fox - Signora Volpe is a series I have been watching on UKTV with Emilia Fox in the title role.  It is, of course, much like Murder in Provence or the Madame Blanc Mysteries, a tad unbelievable but visually delightful and takes you away from reality for a short while.

As does reading and I've been doing a lot of that.  I've just started the latest Elly Griffiths book set in Shoreham-on-Sea with the usual trio of characters we met in The Postscript Murders and Bleeding Heart Yard.  Natalka, Benedict and Edwin are searching for the killer of local authors with the help of their detective friend DI Harbinder Kaur. 

We popped back to Hem Heath woods to see if the bluebells were in flower.

 They were.  More on these in a later post.

The pond desperately needed cleaning up it is being done a little at a time so its inhabitants aren't too disturbed.  The Marsh Marigolds are in flower and the Flag Iris are coming along.  Lots of newts were found, all smooth newts. 
Also two dragonfly larvae and quite a few snails.

There's still a lot of clearing to be done.
Wishing you all a good weekend.

Thursday, April 25, 2024


 A short walk from the car park at the Leek and Rudyard Railway, following the railway line, gets you to Rudyard Lake.

From the first train stop, called The Dam, you can walk onwards at the side of the lake or turn left onto the bridge and down by the lake on the opposite side where there are visitor facilities.

We walked along by the railway.  Just us and a few dog walkers.  Well I say a few but each of the walkers seemed to have several dogs.

 It was quiet, sunny and for once quite warm.  There were several birds calling. 

We heard Chiff Chaff, Robins, Wrens, GreatTits and also a Nuthatch.

We spotted a Heron and also a swallow, swooping over the water.

We stopped for a while on the other side of the lake and sat outside with a coffee and shared a piece of banana bread.

 The lake was built by the Trent and Mersey Canal Company. under the guidance ofJohn Rennie, to supply water to the Caldon branch of the Trent and Mersey Canal.  It was begun in 1797 and completed in 1800.  It still supplies water to the canal system it was designed for. It is now owned by the Canal and River Trust.

 It was here that Rudyard Kipling's parents, John Lockwood Kipling and Alice MacDonald met.  Here is more about the Kipling connection.

Writer George Orwell visited Rudyard Lake between the two world wars when he was researching for his book The Road to Wigan Pier.  He didn't think much of it. 

'Not a soul anywhere and bitter wind blowing. All the broken ice had been blowing up to the South end and the waves were rocking it up and down making a clank-clank, clank-clank.  The most melancholic noise I ever heard.'

Thank goodness we had bright, Spring sunshine for our walk.  Next time, if the train is running, we may take it to the other end of the lake.
All for now.