Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Photo Scavenger Hunt - March 2011

Here are my entries for the March Photo Scavenger Hunt.  I've found this month's topics to be particularly challenging but I've managed to get them all; two in the last couple of days

A Lion
In the Garden Centre at Trentham Gardens.

A Rainbow
No rainbows in the sky, no copies of D. H. Lawrence's 'The Rainbow' in the local book shops, no sightings of Bungle or Zippy so it was time to improvise!

Something Green
'Baking Days' in green by Spode in the Portmeirion factory shop, Fenton, Stoke-on-Trent.  Spode is now owned by Portmeirion.
An Empty Chair
In James Bateman's Geology Gallery, Biddulph Grange Gardens, Staffordshire.
Something Sentimental
Cards sent to my mother by my father on her birthdays in 1936, her 20th birthday, 1937, her 21st birthday and 1938 her 22nd birthday.  They were married later that year.   All say 'to my darling Hilda, love you always, Harry'.  My father died in the autumn of 1955 not long after my 5th birthday.
Peeling Paint
I really struggled to find peeling paint!  This blue peeling paint is on a barn door at the Hungersheath farmshop and cafe near Ashley, on the Staffordshire/Shropshire border.

A Collection

Or just a small sample of my huge collection of theatre programmes.  I've saved them since I first started to visit the theatre in the early sixties. 

A Ring
The signet ring belonged to my maternal grandfather and his initials, AL - for Alexander Limb - are almost worn away.  I was three when he died in April 1954 of pneumoconiosis or miner's lung.  The ring lies inside his watch chain which was turned into a bracelet by my mum's sister, my Aunt Gladys, and left to me when she died in 1967. 

A Fancy Gate
Gate at the end of Lime Avenue, Biddulph Grange Gardens, Staffordshire
A Shadow
Of a small monkey puzzle tree in the Araucaria Parterre at Biddulph Grange Gardens, Staffordshire
Something Old as You

My first bear and my first panda - looking very much the worse for wear!

A Lamb

A new born lamb photographed at the lambing weekend at Reaseheath Agricultural College near Nantwich, Cheshire.  We saw this little one being born.

There are some photos on Flickr and I've added my photos there. I'll also keep adding links below to other blogs as I find them.

Poscards from the P.P.
Ungardened Moments
Life on the East Coast
Ramblings of a Roachling
Little Sealed Packages
Jumble and Jelly 
The Hen House 
Linden Grove 
Everyday Life 
What's in my Attic 
Ellen's 52 
Eagle Altitude
Jordie Girl 

Sunday, March 27, 2011

A Bit of Rhubarb

The rhubarb seems to have grown so quickly through this month.  At the beginning of March there were just  a few signs of life in the rhubarb bed - now look at it.

I love the colour of the leaves and stems.

It was time to pick just a few stalks to use in the kitchen

To make the first rhubarb crumble of this year.  This means a big decision later on - shall we serve it with custard or ice-cream?

Meanwhile, back in the garden, yesterday I planted some new strawberry plants picked up at Aldi for £2.99 for six.  They are Elsanta variety and  I hope they will grow and produce fruit;  I love strawberries but only in the summer season.

I also bought two new lavender plants to replace the ones we have lost.  An English Lavender and a French one.

Also from Aldi a couple of bunches of bright cheerful tulips.  I usually choose pink, white or purple tulips so these orange and yellow ones are a colourful change.

Just an observation but over the last few days we have noticed lots of herring gulls flying over head and calling with their mournful cry day and night.  They woke me early yesterday morning.  Whilst working in the garden yesterday it sounded as if we had suddenly moved to somewhere near the sea - what a great thought!  I could almost hear the sounds of the sea and feel the sand between my toes.  Has anyone else noticed this?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Springtime Days

Haven't the last few days been incredibly wonderful?  We've spent so much time in the garden over the last couple of days trying to get jobs done I feel quite exhausted and ache quite a bit too!  Yesterday afternoon I gave the lawns their first cut of the season whilst Paul re-felted the shed roof.  They were both quite noisy jobs but I can tell you the sound the frogs were making in the pond was much louder.  Our next door neighbour took a break from mowing her lawn and popped through the gap in the hedge to have a peep because she could hear the frogs from their conservatory!!  You may remember my post of  14th March  well it seems as if 'H' from Little Sealed Packages is having the same problem according to her-  post - today the culprits in her case are crows not magpies but they have the same devastating effect.

Since last autumn we've been creating a gravel and slab path from the patio round to the pond and up towards the shed.  Yesterday we needed more gravel and weed control fabric so we set off towards a little nursery in Ireland's Cross where we have found some very reasonably priced pea gravel of which we can managed eight bags at a time in the back of the car.   As the nursery is near the village of Woore we decided to travel to the other side of the village first and have a walk around the gardens at Bridgemere Garden World. 

There was so much cheering spring colour in the gardens.

These gardens are lovely and free to walk around.

There is lots of work going on at Bridgemere within the garden centre and also the retail units. There is already a Hobbycraft, a Cotton Traders and an Edinburgh Woollen Mill but we noticed that there is going to be a Lakeland outlet soon, too.  Now that will be useful as we usually have to travel to Derby, Wilmslow or Shrewsbury to find a Lakeland shop.

As well as the  gravel we also bought a new Rosemary plant to replace the one we lost in the bad weather.  Next replacement purchase will be a bay as our bay tree is also a casualty of the bad weather.  Then we will replace the lavender plants we lost too.  It has been such a bad winter for losing plants we have had for years and years.  It has been hard to say goodbye to some of our old friends.

Meanwhile pondside the story of  the cycle of life goes on!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Biddulph Grange Garden

We've recently re-joined the National Trust.  We let our membership lapse a few years ago when we were having to live on a strict budget.  Things are a little easier now so we decided it was time to branch out again.  Our first visit was to our nearest National Trust property at Biddulph just north of the city.

Biddulph Grange is a Victorian garden created by James Bateman whose interest in science, botany and theology  led him to collect plants and fossils from all over the world and this is reflected in the design of the garden.  It was laid out between the years of 1841 and 1868 in a series of small gardens with a geographical theme.

You can wander though dark underground tunnels.  This one brings you out onto the glen a beautiful walk amongst tall trees like redwoods and monkey puzzles.

At the top of this walk is the Shelter house through which you can pass into the Egyptian Garden.

and from the upstairs you can look down onto the dahlia walk which is a riot of colour in high summer.  Just beyond the hedge is the mosaic parterre  and Mrs Bateman's garden.

There is a wonderful, twisting path through upturned tree roots  which brings you out onto the recently restored 'great wall of China'

This part of the garden is very popular with visitors as it twists and turns and keeps you guessing where it will go next.

Take this route along the wall and you will enter the Chinese themed garden, with its temple overlooking a tranquil pool full of huge goldfish.

The colourful bridge leads through to a small garden and round to the temple.

Below is the bust of a sacred water buffalo 

The large urn stands at the top of the Wellingtonia Avenue

below is part of the Italian style garden

The house itself isn't open to the public and has been turned into luxury living accommodation.

Above is the newly opened James Bateman geological gallery.  It is currently being restored so not yet finished but it was  fascinating to see how he had tried to piece together the aspects of geological time and fossil remains with his understanding of the biblical days of creation.

Also new since our last visit were a woodland walk with tactile activities for children and a kitchen garden complete with raised beds, composting area, scarecrow and beehive.  There is a shop and cafe and  picnicing is allowed outside the garden.  A great start to our year of National Trust visits!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

So Cheerful

It was very overcast and grey as we made our way around the lake at Trentham this morning so we decided to visit the garden centre after our walk.

I always think that garden centres and nurseries are so cheerful at this time of year.

I think it is the colourful flowers coupled with the sense of excitement  at seeing all the things ready for the new season.

As well as the anticipation of planning what you can grow in your garden through the spring and summer.

There were so many lovely things offering inspiration.  I'm afraid that often we just look here and buy elsewhere as a lot of their goods, although very beautiful, are quite expensive.

I've just realised that I've been blogging for six years this week, my first post was written on 14th March 2005 and  I'd completely forgotten about it.  Last year I had a special give-away as I'd reached 5 years and 500 posts on 14th March.  This year's anniversary has passed me by but I may do something in the summer instead.  One thing I did do for the first time this week was meet up with a fellow blogger.  It was lovely to meet Louise from Ramblings of a Roachling who came to visit us after she'd been to an interview not far away. We chatted about many things including  how we were getting on with finding the subjects for this month's Photo Scavenger Hunt.  I am not doing as well this month as last but there is still a little time left to find those elusive items.

Monday, March 14, 2011

It's Murder on the Pond side!

Seven dead frogs in three days!  Even though the pond is heaving with frogs at the moment - I could hear them croaking from the bottom of the garden yesterday morning - seven is just too many to lose.  They had all received rather gruesome head injuries. 

I think we have a serial killer on our hands! So who is the culprit or 'perpetrator of the crime' as they seem to say nowadays?   

 Was it Miss Scarlett (played by Chloe) with the withering stare?  Hmm .... perhaps we should keep her under surveillance!

 Was it the Reverend Green (played by Max) with the sharp claw?  Maybe..... take him in for questioning!
Was it Mrs Peacock (played by Chico) with the cushion?   No, she has an alibi!

Was it Colonel Mustard (played by Midge) with the biting teeth!!?  He was my prime suspect, but.......

No it wasn't any of those

Caught, red- handed, Professor Plum (played by the Magpie) in the leylandii with the sharp, vicious beak!
I don't suppose that he/she will ever be brought to justice - poor old frogs!

With thanks and apologies to the makers/designers of Cluedo.

Thanks to everyone who left such kind comments on my last post.  My hand is back to normal, thank goodness, but now I can't get out of the washing up anymore!