Monday, April 30, 2012

Photo Scavenger Hunt - April 2012

Can't believe it's May tomorrow but it is so here, on the last day of April, are my Photo Scavenger Hunt offerings for this month.  I must admit that I've rushed around in the last few days trying to find  most of them as I started late and for ages only had three of the topics and almost decided to miss a month out but then decided I'd have a go.  Thanks, as always to Kathy at Postcards from the PP for setting us off on our quest with her choice of things to find.  Here is a -  link - to other participants.

An amazing feat of engineering!  The Anderton Boat Lift, Anderton, Cheshire.  After our visit to Northwich earlier in the year we promised ourselves that we would go back and go down on the lift and make the river trip which we did last week.  The lift was built in 1875 to move boats between the Trent and Mersey Canal and the River Weaver ( now designated a canal and known as the Weaver Navigation)  At first it used water hydraulics to power it later it moved to electricity.  In 2001 it was returned to hydraulic operation.   It was, indeed, an amazing experience to travel down in the lift!

Can't live without
Even with the amount of rain tumbling out of the sky this month we still have drought conditions in many areas of the country.  I could manage without a lot of things but water isn't one of them. 
Direction for one way traffic on our walk back from Errwood Reservoir to Derbyshire Bridge

Entrance and exit to a local garden centre

Whilst waiting to make the trip on the Anderton Boat lift we indulged in coffee and muffins at the very nice cafe in the visitor centre.  We watched through the windows as the boat we were going to travel in came up on the lift whilst Ted, one of the volunteers, sat with us at our table and told us all about the building and technology of the lift.

I think this stained glass window is multi-coloured enough to be acceptable although I took it right at the end of last month so I hope that is acceptable too.  The window is in the refectory at Chester Cathedral.

On the Move
A narrow boat moves gently into the Trent and Mersey Canal from the exit of Aston Marina near Stone in Staffordshire.

A rock water fall seen on  our walk from Derbyshire Bridge to Errwood Reservoir.

I love the smile(s) in this print I have on my wall at home of one of my favourite paintings.  It is just a small section of the print which is from a painting called 'Love's Oracle' by Albert Ritzberger.  I bought the print from Nottingham Castle in the 1970s where the original was (and I think still is) on display.  I must visit again one day as it is ages since I saw the original.

A spring on my springy wooden cat!

Sticky fingers - Paul making bread with Emmer wheat flour which is extra sticky when kneading! 

The reeds at the side of the Weaver Navigation were whipping themselves into a tangle as we passed by on our boat trip after descending from the Trent and Mersey Canal by the Anderton Boat Lift.

Well, that's my lot - I wonder what next month's hunt will bring?

Friday, April 27, 2012

Fields of Golden Yellow

Yesterday we drove over to the museum at RAF Cosford.  We usually visit once or twice a year and as the weather was so wet and knowing that most of it is undercover, therefore warm and dry, we decided to make our first visit of the year.  On our way we passed by some of the most amazing fields of vibrant yellow oilseed rape.

I know some people dislike the yellow fields and others, who have respiratory problems, really dread this time of year, but in this dull and gloomy weather the golden yellow of the crop is so cheering.

Under the dark, lowering skies it looked quite spectacular.  So vibrant, so alive!

Just as soon as we found somewhere safe enough to stop I jumped out of the car with my trusty camera and took some photos.  Luckily we were in between the rain storms.  Just looking at the photos makes me smile.  How do you feel about it?

Friday, April 20, 2012

Derbyshire Bridge to Errwood Reservoir

Back to the walk from Derbyshire Bridge to Errwood Reservoir. As we made our way towards the reservoir we saw an interesting sign so decided to make a bit of a detour

Walking higher up on the path to Errwood Hall we caught a glimpse of the reservoir through the trees.

We followed the signs which led us past lovely, lichen covered stone walls, fast flowing streams and loads of rhododendron and azalea bushes, which will no doubt look wonderful in a few weeks time, until we found the remains of the hall.

 According to records  it was built about 1840 by a wealthy family from Manchester called Grimshaw who lived there until the 1930s.  The family were devout catholics and also had their own chapel and resident priest.  The family employed about twenty staff at the hall most of whom lived in cottages in a nearby village, the family also had their own coal mine and ran a local school which was attended by about thirty local children.  The last descendant of the Grimshaws died in 1930  leaving the hall empty.

  For a short time the hall became a youth hostel. The building was demolished in 1938 and some of the stones used for the building of the dam and water treatment works on the newly constructed Fernilee reservoir.

The remains have been preserved and are a popular stopping point for walkers in the area. We had the place very much to ourselves except for some lively, melodious blackbirds.   

We set off back down the track to the side of the reservoir.  Errwood Reservoir was built almost thirty years after the one at Fernilee.  It was completed in 1967 by the Stockport Water Corporation at a cost of 1.5 millions pounds and it provides water for the town of Stockport and surrounding areas.

We intend to return to this area and do the walk around the Fernilee Reservoir perhaps later in the year.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

New Book, New Magazine

You may remember a book review  I wrote last year - here - about Rosy Thornton's novel 'A Tapestry of Love'.  Rosy kindly sent me a copy of the book when she saw from my book list that I'd read an earlier book of hers.  This week I received from her a copy of her latest book 'Ninepins' which I'm very much looking forward to reading just as soon as I've finished  a couple of books I borrowed from the library last week.  I'll write a  review of it as soon as I've read it but for now here is the synopsis from the back cover.

"Deep in the Cambridgeshire fens, Laura is living alone with her 12-year old daughter Beth, in the old tollhouse known as 'Ninepins'. She's in the habit of renting out the old pumphouse once a fen drainage station to students, but this year she's been persuaded to take in 17-year old Willow, a care-leaver with a dubious past, on the recommendation of her social worker, Vince.  Is Willow dangerous or just vulnerable?"

This book sounds very different to the others of  Rosy's books that I've read and I must admit I'm already intrigued by the fenland setting.

Yesterday I was wandering around W H Smith gazing at all the magazines, of which there are so many mostly looking the same, when I came across something new.  I picked it up and riffled through a few pages and knew I couldn't leave it in the shop.

Inside was the most wonderful  eclectic mix of articles on wildlife, gardening, rural crafts, recipes and craft projects all with stunning photographs to illustrate them.  A veritable feast for the eyes!

Featured seasonal flowers were tulips, lilac, freesias and bluebells and seasonal produce like rhubarb, rosemary, runner beans and asparagus with accompanying recipes.  There were also articles on red deer, Dorset's Jurassic coast, wood working and willow weaving.  I think it was the fact that a heroine of mine, Mary Anning, appeared in the article on the Jurassic Coast, you'll perhaps remember I've written about her in previous posts like the one - here -  that finally convinced me to buy the magazine as I don't buy glossy mags very often, usually only as a treat on my birthday or for Christmas.

I'm hoping that the next issue will be just as interesting!  If it is I will most probably buy it regularly,  or perhaps take out a subscription - as you can see I'm hooked already.

I'll be back soon with the second part of our walk in the Goyt Valley

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Derbyshire Bridge

 On Friday we  walked from the car park next to the Derbyshire Bridge Ranger Centre, which is off the A537 Buxton to Macclesfield road just before the Cat and Fiddle if you are driving from Buxton, towards the Errwodd and Fernilee reservoirs. 

The  tarmacked road, which is one way only from the opposite direction, runs alongside the River Goyt all the way.  The Derbyshire Bridge was so called because at one time it was the boundary between Derbyshire and Cheshire.  It crosses over the river a little way down on the walk.

Above us were the moors full of heather and wild bilberry.  We saw, in the distance, a grouse perched on a fence post. 

Below is the pretty stone bridge we saw down in the valley crossing the River Goyt with signposts for walks over the moors.  We decided to stick with the  road on this visit but would love to return and walk some of the other footpaths.

As you walk closer to the reservoirs you leave the open moors behind and enter woodland where there are lots of rocky waterfalls down towards the river.

It was a very peaceful walk just one car passed us by and a few cyclists,  a couple of them heading in the wrong direction down the one way only road.  Fortunately we were fairly well tucked into the side of the road having heard them just in time as they don't seem to ring their warning bells anymore and just shout out 'mind' which is a wee bit disconcerting!

We followed a path down to the river bank and stood for a while watching the fast flowing river eddying across the rocks before heading up towards the road again to continue our walk.

At which point I too will take a break and continue the walk in another post.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Hey, Hey we love monkeys

Yesterday my sister, niece and her children came to visit and we took them on a much anticipated visit to the Monkey Forest at Trentham.

The monkeys are all Barbary Macaques allowed to roam freely in a natural woodland environment on a 60 acre site next to Trentham Gardens and Lake. The children were so excited that at long last they were visiting the monkey forest. I'd promised them a visit last year but each time one was planned something happened to prevent it. 

There are two families of macaques one from France and one from Germany where the company that run the venture have other monkey establishments.  There is an alpha male and alpha female in each family.  One of the guides told us that there are about 70 in each family and that the monkeys live to about the age of twenty three but that they had a very old female who was about twenty eight years old.

One of the little ones enjoying being so close to the monkeys.  There are, of course, several rules to abide by whilst visiting,  things like keeping fairly quiet, not running about and keeping a distance of 1.5 metres between you and the monkeys.  This can be difficult as sometimes they cross the paths right in front of you.  

I think this was one of the alpha males in the German group and he is about eighteen years old.  I was so busy taking photos of the monkeys that I forgot to take any distance shots across the parkland to show how much space they have to live in.  There is also a stream that runs through the complex and the rippling and tinkling of the water coupled with the bird song added to the tranquillity of the place.

Paul with the two 'littlies' - the larger of the two 'littlies' is wearing my waterproof jacket which is why it is nearly floor length.  

We spent ages wandering around before we left the monkeys behind and made the obligatory visit to the gift shop.  It was time to go home!

Monday, April 09, 2012

Easter in the Garden

There are lots of lovely flowers and plants in the garden at the moment!  Dashing in and out between the showers over the weekend I managed to get a few photos.

 I love the colour combination of the purple Honesty flowers against the acid green Euphorbia

and the bright blue of the Muscari or Grape Hyacinths - all that remains in the small spring garden I made a couple of years ago

Lovely little violets have self-seeded amongst the gravel - they always remind me of childhood woodland walks

The unusual cream coloured marsh marigolds growing in the pond.

I now know that the plant above is called Bergenia or Elephant's Ears thanks to all the kind people who told me what the plant is on my post about Biddulph Gardens.  Our plant has red edged leaves and red stems unlike the one I saw there.

The bright yellow flowers of the Kerria Japonica are just opposite the conservatory windows and are a lovely cheerful sight at this time of year.

Last but not least a joy to come!  A lovely tight flower bud amongst the fresh green leaves of the peony.  I haven't got it in a cage but took the photo overhead through the support it will need later in the year.

Friday, April 06, 2012

Aston-by-Stone to Burston

After Wednesday's grim weather it was great to get out into the fresh air yesterday for a long walk.

We parked at the new Aston Marina which is close to the village of Aston-by-Stone.   After a coffee  at the Bistro we donned boots and warm jackets and set off down the canal  towards the village of Burston.

Walking down the towpath on the opposite side you pass the entrance and exit to the marina, in between the two were a pair of swans nesting.

 This is a lovely stretch of the Trent and Mersey Canal.  As we walked we saw lapwings overhead and black caps in the bushes.

There were quite a few narrow boats on the canal, both experienced regulars and holiday makers out on the waterways for the Easter break.

 In the fields either side of the canal were cattle and sheep

  When we reached the bridge over the canal just before the village of Burston we diverted away from the canal towpath and walked across the bridge over the River Trent and down past the nature reserve.

This is part of the Aston to Burston Trail which is  circular walk between the two villages

Following the trail back to Aston leads through open fields where skylarks rose in the air and hovered over our heads.

We walked down sheltered country lanes where, what I think is hawthorn blossom (it could, of course, be damson or blackthorn), was out.  I expect we all remember from our childhood the saying 'Ne'er cast a clout til may be out' and for ages we all thought that meant not to take coats or cardigans off until the month of May. Now we know it probably refers to the may or hawthorn blossom.  I can tell you I wasn't casting any clouts yesterday as it was still very cold, unlike the week before!

There were some lovely houses to be seen on our way into the village, below is Aston Hall

 and  St Saviour's  church which you can see across the canal when you first set out on the walk - hence my first photo.

Just past the church is the bridge over the River Trent and then a second bridge over the canal

Back at the marina we wandered around the farm shop to see what goodies they had before setting off for home again.  At the Marina you can hire four-seater electric powered boats for up to two hours so you can explore the canal between Aston and Sandon Lock.  Now there's an idea for a special occasion.