Friday, July 30, 2010

Big Butterfly Count

This is the week of the Big Butterfly Count you can still join in and help by spotting and recording butterflies and moths until Sunday 1st August. Just find a place to do the survey like your garden or a local park or beauty spot and sit and record what you see in just 15 minutes; enter the results on line. You can download a form and identification chart from the website.

I took this photo in the garden last year - I think it is a Speckled Wood - we've not seen as many butterflies this year so far.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Here and There

This week has been quite busy so I haven't had time to do the second Newstead Abbey post yet. I'm hoping to get round to that later but today we are having some new fencing delivered which has to be put in place and also the lawn is long overdue a cut so I'm hoping this morning's rain is going to disappear so we can work in the garden over the next couple of days.

On Tuesday we went to Chesterfield to have lunch with my sister and to visit my brother-in-law in hospital where he is spending the next few days. On our way back we stopped for a break in Bakewell and had a walk by the river......

.....through this pretty sensory garden near the bridge and looked in some of the shop windows - it's a good job they were closed as I in my imagination I spent pounds on some really pretty things!

On Wednesday we had arranged to meet up with friends from Nottingham for lunch and a walk around at Derby. We walked out of the city centre to the Arboretum, somewhere I'd never been before.

This is the present main entrance in Arboretum Square and as you walk up the street towards it you get the feel of how it may have looked when it first opened. It must have been very grand, some of the larger houses are divided into flats others are undergoing extensive renovation.

The arboretum, known locally as the 'arbo', was opened in 1840 and was created on land owned by Joseph Strutt who gave the deeds to the town council of Derby on 16th September of that year. The day after a procession of 1,500 towns folk walked to the arboretum to enjoy its first day of opening.

Behind the main entrance is the Orangery with the clock, which is on the back of the tower holding the statue of Joseph Strutt overlooking the square. According to the 'Friends of the Arboretum' website there is a plan to stop parking in front of the main entrance and make the orangery into an entrance arcade complete with orange trees.

The statue of the Florentine Boar, sculpted by Alex Paxton, was placed here in November 2005. It is a replica of the original statue of a boar, made for Joseph Strutt's garden in 1808 but later moved to the arboretum, which was damaged in 1941. This boar was a copy of the boar fountain which sits on the edge of the Mercato Nuovo in Florence. We missed seeing the Florentine Boar when we visited Florence - apparently if you rub its nose you will return, I expect the Derby boar will be the nearest I get to the original now.

The fountain was first placed here in 1846 but much of it has been replaced over the years due to damage and vandalism.

This is the Grove Street entrance to the arboretum which was, until the 1850s the main or Grand Entrance. The Lodge was used to house the curator of the arboretum.

According to the website Derby Arboretum was England's first designated public open space. Here is a link to the website where you can find much more information about its history and future plans.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Newstead Abbey - part 1

On Friday we had arranged to meet up with Paul's brother at the wonderful place below, not far from where he lives. The weather was fine and dry and we had a lovely walk around the gardens, lunch in the cafe and then went inside the building to have a good look around. The Abbey is administered by Nottingham City Council and amazingly we were allowed to take photos inside.

Newstead Abbey was built as an Augustinian priory, founded by Henry II about 1163, legend has it that it was founded in atonement for the murder of Thomas a Becket, and remained as a small religious community until dissolved as such by Henry VIII in 1539. A year later it was granted to Sir John Byron of Colwick who began the conversion of the priory into a family home.

Sir John Byron demolished the priory church but utilised most of the other buildings which is why the abbey still keeps the feeling of a monastic building.

The abbey remained in the hands of the Byron family for almost 300 years.

During the time of William, the 5th Lord Byron the estate went into decline and the contents of the house were sold.

When the abbey was inherited by its most famous occupant, George Gordon, 6th Lord Byron best known as Lord Byron the British Romantic poet, it was empty and falling into disrepair.

The poet sold the property to a friend Thomas Wildman in 1818 who did much restoration and repair whilst still keeping the overall monastic feel of the building and he is responsible for much of its present look.

In 1861 the Abbey was bought by wealthy landowner William Frederick Webb a friend of explorer Dr David Livingstone who stayed at the abbey in the 1860s.

The estate passed to Mr Webb's children and grandchild Charles Ian Fraser who sold it to local philanthropist Sir Julien Cahn who presented it it to Nottingham City Council in 1931.

There is much to see both in the abbey and in the gardens

We spent a happy hour wandering around looking at all the plants and flowers

before stopping for lunch in the cafe - the food was wonderful.

I'll be back for part two with more about the poet Lord Byron and his faithful dog Boatswain and some photos of the interior of the abbey.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

From the Garden

It's that time of year when the garden starts to produce lots of lovely goodies; not just for us but the wildlife too!

We have lots of cabbage, some new potatoes and courgettes to eat.

Also lots of gooseberries - I love sitting in the sun to top and tail gooseberries it reminds me of when I was a child and my job was to sit on the back steps and top and tail the gooseberries or pod the fresh garden peas into a colander ready for Sunday lunch. I always had to move for a while so Dad could sharpen the carving knife on the step ready to carve the Sunday joint.

We've already made gooseberry jam as well as a gooseberry crumble or two.

The tomatoes are ripening in the greenhouse or on our kitchen windowsill when they fall of the plants a little early.

Yesterday we collected enough blackcurrants to make both jam and cordial.

I also made some apricot conserve with some cheap apricots I saw in the supermarket. The cupboard is beginning to fill with enough jams and jellies to take us through to next year and to provide us with little gifts for people too.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Up the Hill

We've just got back from a couple of days in Lincolnshire. The first day was spent with friends in and around Spalding where we used to live before we moved over here. After an overnight stay with one of those friends we drove up to Lincoln. The last time we visited was in 2004 and there are a few changes since we were last in the city.

We parked at Brayford Waterfront which is all very smart with lots of whizzy and chic places to eat and drink along this side of the marina. The University of Lincoln is on the other side.

We headed along the river towards the city centre. The old building over the River Witham is Stokes coffee shop, bakery and cafe with wonderful creaking floors and staircases inside.

Down a little alley next to the coffee shop and out onto the main shopping street in the lower part of the city.

This is the start of what is known in Lincoln as Steep Hill - are you ready for the climb? Hope you have your sturdy, comfy shoes on as the cobbles can make your feet sore!

Up past this old building knows as Jews Court - it used to be the headquarters of the Society for Lincolnshire History and Archaeology and I've been to one or two meetings here in the past.

Let's take a diversion into Temple Gardens before it rains!

The Usher Art Gallery is closed for refurbishment but we can visit the new museum called simply 'The Collection' - the interior is quite stunning - this is the foyer. The displays are on the early history of the area - stone, iron and bronze ages through to Roman and Viking invasions up to Anglo Saxon and early medieval times.

The sun is out again so let's venture further up the hill.

Go on, get those legs working!

You have the right idea, Mr Puss!

Let's look back and see how far we have walked - quite a way! That's a lovely old second hand book shop on the corner.

Time for another diversion. This is the Pot Shop where the owner makes replica pottery from all the ages mentioned above. I have one of his jugs bought ages ago at the Lincolnshire Show when the museum I worked for had a stand there. Well, as you've probably guessed I bought another one to go with it. I'll show it to you in another post.

Here is The Arbour florists where you can buy herbs and lavender and rose petals and hops and fresh larkspur - I was slightly worried about the last one as I thought larkspur was poisonous - perhaps someone with knowledge of plants and herbs will tell me.

Past the famous Wig and Mitre pub - sorry I didn't take a photo as I was clutching my newly purchased jug and trying not to fall on the cobbles and break it!

The magnificent west front of Lincoln Cathedral - we didn't have time to go in on this visit although we have been inside several times in the past. We always have to search for the Lincoln Imp when we go inside.

Ditto Lincoln Castle - there is a copy of the Magna Carta here which we have seen on a previous visit it is one of only four remaining and is the property of Lincoln Cathedral.

View from the castle to the cathedral.

The bunting was blowing brightly in the strong breeze - time to return to the car and find somewhere to have a very late lunch.

Here is a - link - to Paul's post on our visit to Lincoln.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Tutbury Castle

On Friday after doing some family history research at the pretty village of Aston-on-Trent we stopped off on our way home to visit Tutbury Castle. It was somewhere I'd wanted to visit for quite a while and I wasn't sure what to expect but it exceeded expectations and we really enjoyed our visit.

We'd often seen the ruined towers on the hill but hadn't realised that the castle and the area around it had such a rich history. There had been settlements on the castle site from early times but the first Motte and Bailey castle was built just after the Norman Conquest by Hugh D'Averanche. Soon after it came into the hands of the de Ferrers family until it was destroyed during the reign of Henry II. It was rebuilt in stone later in the 12th century.

Later in its history the castle became the property of John of Gaunt, 3rd son of Edward III, on his marriage to Blanche of Lancaster. In the 15th century it was owned by Margaret of Anjou wife of Henry IV. Other visitors over the years were Henry VIII and James I, whose mother...

Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned here several times throughout the years of her captivity during the reign of Elizabeth I and in 1645 Charles I and his nephew Prince Rupert stayed here during the time of the Civil War. The fireplace below is said to date from about that time.

The Castle is owned by the Duchy of Lancaster and has been much researched and refurbished over the last few years. From the towers - yes, I did climb up and down them both and my knees know about it this weekend - there are commanding views of the surrounding countryside below

the river Dove meanders by a farmer's field.The Nestle Coffee factory in the valley at nearby Hatton where they make Nescafe and Dolce Gusto coffees.

and the town of Tutbury which is, of course, famous for its glass industry. Unfortunately the Tutbury Crystal factory closed three years ago.

In the towers there is a lot of graffiti - much of it from the early 19th century. The inscription above says B Crighton 74th Regiment 1818.

The castle has many events each year things like music festivals and historical re-enactments, and also holds wedding services, civil partnerships and hand fasting ceremonies. You can have these by torchlight at midnight if required but the one being held at 3.30p.m. on the day we visited was apparently a medieval style wedding and the couple were from Australia.

The castle also has 'Tea with the Queen' when you can have a cream tea and listen to a talk by the curator who dresses as either Mary, Queen of Scots or Elizabeth I wearing the costumes above.

Here are a few more scenes around the castle

The North Tower