Thursday, May 31, 2012

Photo Scavenger Hunt - May 2012

It's that time again and I've left it really late this month and once again had decided that I wasn't going to join in this time but somehow I've managed to find some fairly suitable photos from the ones I've taken this month.  The only photos I've taken specifically for the scavenge are front page, currency and beverage.   Thanks as always to Kathy at Postcards from the PP for giving us the topics.  Here is a link to other participating blogs.

Good Things
Bluebells in Strelley Woods, Nottinghamshire

Small Packages
A bit of poetic license here -  goslings at the side of the lake at Trentham Gardens, Stoke-on-Trent

Wisteria on the old summer house in the ornamental gardens at Wentworth, Yorkshire

Cambridge Bus Station.  On our recent short break to Bedfordshire to see the Shuttleworth Collection we also spent a day in Cambridge, leaving the car behind and using the bus, mostly spent looking at fossils in the Sedgwick Museum but we did manage book shops and the Fitzwilliam Museum  as well!

Horn on the end of the nose of a rhinoceros sculpture at Trentham Gardens, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire

Front Page
Of our local newspaper which shows local Olympic gold medallist Imran Sherwani lighting the Olympic Cauldron at last night's festivities in Hanley Park.

Lock gate number nine on the down side at Foxton Locks, Leicestershire

A mug of fruit tea is so refreshing in hot weather

Well, former currency!  Some old French francs found in an old purse at the back of a drawer.

Blackburn Monoplane 1912, the oldest British flying aeroplane in the world at the Shuttleworth Collection, Old Warden Aerodrome, Biggleswade, Bedfordshire.

Chicken of the Woods fungus growing on a tree

Do you see what I see?
A small cat (not real) on the bonnet of the old car, a 1926 Jowett type C, at the Shuttleworth Collection, Old Warden Aerodrome, Biggleswade, Bedfordshire.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

To Wentworth Woodhouse

On Sunday we travelled through Leek, Buxton and Glossop on our way to the outskirts of north Sheffield and over the M1 to the lovely village of Wentworth to meet up with the equally lovely Diane who was waiting for us in the car park at the garden centre which is in part of the Wentworth estate.

It must have been one of the hottest days of the year so far!  We had a picnic under the trees before we set out on our long walk around the estate and village.  We walked, we talked, we laughed and shared stories and memories and Diane, a super guide, told us all about the history of the 'big house' and the village.  She pointed out all the sights including some of the follies to be seen across the parkland.

Below are some images of the day

I loved the village

With its lovely little cottages and beautiful churches

This is the 'old' church, now redundant and cared for by the Church Conservation Trust  - it was so cool inside with the most beautiful windows.....

...... ancient tomb stones and memorials to members of the Wentworth/ Fitzwilliam families including a display  with many old photos of the large house, estate and the village.  The tombs of the family are inside and outside in the church yard are many grave stones dedicated to the estate workers.

We passed straight from one church yard to another to visit the 'new church' which again was so beautiful inside.

This is the Victorian gothic church whose spire you can see up on the hill as you approach the village

After tea and scones on the terrace at the garden centre's new cafe we wandered around the ornamental gardens. 

It was so pleasant and cool under the trees

What a wonderful place to have so close to your home, Diane.  Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to be our guide we had the most wonderful time!

Saturday, May 26, 2012


You may remember that last year I reviewed 'A Tapestry of Love' by Rosy Thornton see - here - for that review.  This year Rosy has kindly sent me a copy of her new novel 'Ninepins' and I mentioned recently on this - post - that I would write a review when I had read it.  I actually finished it before we went away but have only just got around to writing a review.

'Ninepins' by Rosy Thornton, p/bk,  published by Sandstone Press, ISBN978-1-905207-85-5
'Ninepins' is very different to 'A Tapestry of Love' and any other of Rosy Thornton's books I have read.  Set in the stark beauty of the Cambridgeshire Fens, the story revolves around Laura and her daughter Beth who live in an old toll-house cottage called 'Ninepins' which has a fen drainage engine in the garden in which Laura usually takes student lodgers.  At the beginning of the book she has been approached by the social worker of a young girl called Willow who is looking for accommodation after spending several years in and out of care.  Laura accepts Willow as a lodger and this is when the tensions in the book begin.  Is Willow just troubled or could she cause problems for or be a danger to Laura and Beth?  I loved all the relationships in the story especially that between Laura and her asthmatic teenage daughter Beth, her gradual understanding and acceptance of Willow and her growing friendship with the likeable social worker Vince as well as her involvement with Beth's father and his new family.  Most of all I loved the author's vivid descriptions of the fens.  The frozen winter fens, the overflowing dykes and waterways and as springtime approaches and winter departs a glorious description of the swallows returning to the lode in springtime.  Perhaps because I've lived in the fens I could imagine more acutely her descriptions of the cold, flat, often wet and sometimes forbidding countryside with its wide, beautiful skies.  I really enjoyed reading 'Ninepins' and found that I couldn't put the book down and didn't want it to end.  There is a link in my sidebar to Rosy Thornton's website where you will find details of all her books.

The Lode and Lode Mill, Anglesey Abbey, Cambridgeshire taken by me on one of our springtime visits - no swallows to be seen in the photos as they move so quickly.  Below is a photo taken at Wicken Fen, Cambridgeshire later the same afternoon as the one above.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Foxton Locks

On the way home from our recent short break we stopped off at Foxton Locks for lunch and a short walk. The locks are on the Leicestershire branch of the Grand Union canal close to the village of Foxton which isn't far from the lovely town of Market Harborough.

We decided to have lunch first, just a simple meal of cheese baguette and coffee was in order as we'd had breakfast at our hotel before leaving that morning.  The two previous days had been warm and dry but Saturday started wet with the constant  'mizzle' that soon wets you through so we didn't sit in the courtyard overlooking the old bridge over the canal but went inside and sat amongst the seasoned boaters who told tales of the waterways they'd travelled on whilst in another corner a man sat quietly strumming a guitar and singing folk songs. 

After lunch we went to inspect the locks.  The ten locks are Grade II listed and consist of two separate flights of five locks.  Building work started on the locks in 1810 and was completed in 1814.  The transit through the locks should take from forty five minutes to one hour but at busy times there can be quite a wait and build up of traffic.

Towards the end of the 19th century traffic was so busy that it was decided to build an inclined plane to replace the locks and this work was completed in 1900.  The locks went into disrepair until they were refurbished in 1908 to take over again from the inclined plane as that hadn't proved to be very successful and was finally dismantled in 1926.

About halfway up the staircase of locks is the Foxton Canal Museum, which is housed in the former steam engine which powered the inclined plane, looks interesting and apparently tells the story of the development of both the staircase of locks and the inclined plane.  We didn't have time to go into the museum this time but will probably visit if we go back again.

Above is the site of the inclined plane.  It had two tanks or caissons running up and down it which could hold one barge or two narrow boats.  The caissons being full of water balanced each other.  In contrast to the lock system the travel time was 12 minutes for two boats up and down a lot quicker for the businesses that used the canal.  The Inclined Plane has been recognised as a Scheduled Ancient Monument and is undergoing restoration with the help of money from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Monday, May 21, 2012

How is the garden?

When we get back from a short break or holiday almost the first thing we do is dash out into the garden to see what has been happening whilst we have been away.  At this time of year we find lots of changes.

The rhododendron is in flower and looking wonderful!

The perennial cornflowers are out too

as are the aquilegias

There's plenty of grass, buttercups and dandelions growing in amongst the plants and wildlife like butterflies, bees and ladybirds flitting around the garden.

Some of the baby birds have fledged and it has been amusing watching the young sparrows and starlings taking instruction on how to feed on the lawns from their parents.  We haven't seen any young blackbirds or robins yet.  I do fear for them though as there is a sparrowhawk around patrolling the gardens.

We have found what we think is a wren's nest up under the eves of the garden shed.  We spotted a wren in the garden a few weeks ago but we also have a regular coal tit visitor to the garden so it could be its nest. Today we saw a very small bird fly out from under the shed roof but it was too quick to identify it.  I hope it is a wren!

Edit Wednesday 23rd May - it is definitely a wren, we've seen it going in and out of the nest!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Oldmoor Wood

Yesterday we went to visit friends in Nottingham and we all decided a walk and a pub lunch would be a good thing.  We'd watched the weather forecast, as you have to do at the moment with this awful weather we've been having, and decided that we might just avoid the rain.

We drove out of the city to the village of Strelley and parked near the bridge over the M1 motorway.  Just beyond this and down a leafy lane is the entrance to Oldmoor Wood.   It is managed by the Woodland Trust, and was, according to their website,  'planted up' in the 1790s by Thomas Edge, the then owner and designer of the Strelley Estate.  There are two other woods close by namely Holly Copse and Brickyard Plantation.

We were all intrigued by the twisted bough of this Beech tree.  Paul thought that it may once have been entwined by ivy which had caused the indented pattern.  It was warm under the trees, the paths soft underfoot,  insects buzzed in the air, birdsong sounded loud and clear; the soft drone of the traffic on the motorway seemed many more miles away than it actually was.  Of course it being May the woodland floor was a carpet of wild flowers and in particular, our favourites. After my last post can you cope with yet more of these wonderful 'wild things?'  I hope so.....

There was a shimmering, sea of blue under the acid green leaves of the beech trees wherever we looked

After feasting our eyes on such wonders it was time to think about feasting in other ways so,  taking one last fleeting look,  we made our way to the Broad Oak Inn for a late lunch.

It only started to rain as we entered the pub - how lucky was that?

Sunday, May 06, 2012

On Wild Things

Wild Thing.....

You make my heart.....


Bluebells spotted in Trentham Estate Woods as we walked there yesterday morning.  Last year when we walked amongst the bluebells we heard a cuckoo.  I was hoping to hear one this year but it wasn't to be.  Does this mean that cuckoos weren't there this year or does it just mean I wasn't there at the right time to hear them?  I was please to see on the news that two of the cuckoos being tracked as part of the BTO's 'Tracking Cuckoos to Africa project'  have returned to where they were tagged with a small satellite device last year before their migration.  All but one of the birds made the journey through France and Spain into Africa.  Chris, one of the cuckoos, arrived back in Thetford Forest, Norfolk, at the beginning of May and Lyster, was back in Norfolk somewhere near Reedham on the Norfolk Broads about the same time.  Unfortunately Clement, Martin and Kasper are missing presumed dead.  This project will help enormously in the research to find out why the population of cuckoos in Britain is in decline.

I love this image of a cuckoo taken from my well-thumbed copy of  - 'A Country Woman's Journal' - by Margaret Shaw.   She writes on April 17th 1928....

'Heard the cuckoo before 6a.m. got up and saw him sitting in a tree opposite my window.  His tail goes up and his head goes down each time he cuckoos, a very wooden looking bird'

How wonderful to see a cuckoo from your bedroom window!