Tuesday, July 30, 2013

St Mary's Church, Wirksworth

One of my favourite places in Derbyshire is the little town of Wirksworth.  It lies at the head of the Ecclesbourne valley surrounded by the quarries on which its wealth was built.  Its main streets, which climb up out of the town centre, are full of fascinating old buildings in which are housed some interesting and individual shops, cafes and bistros.

Just behind one of the main streets, in its own little close, lies the parish church of St Mary.  The present building which dates from the 13th century was built on or near the remains of an earlier church.  The church, like many others was restored c.1870 by Sir Gilbert Scott.

The inside of the church feels both warm and light and airy with its beautiful stained glass windows and tiled floors.

There are two fonts

the one above was placed in the church in 1662 the one below dates from around 1250

and some interesting monuments to the local great and good

The tomb of Sir Anthony Lowe, gentleman of the bedchamber to both Henry VII, Henry VIII and Edward VI.  Below the brass memorial to Thomas Blakewell and his wife Maud.

below the tomb of Sir Anthony Gell who established a grammar school and alms houses in Wirksworth

There are lots of what remains of stone carvings, some of them Saxon, including

The Wirksworth Stone, which was found face down two feet below the surface when the pavement in front of the alter was being moved in 1820.  It had been used to cover a grave containing a large, perfect human skeleton and is thought to date from the late 7th century.

Above is a carving known as 'T'owd Man' which, according to both the church guide and an information panel at the nearby National Stone Centre, is said to be one of the oldest depictions of a lead miner to be found anywhere in the world.

I'll be back with more about Wirksworth and its environs in another post.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

A Return Visit

You may remember that in April this year we visited the Walled Kitchen Garden at Sugnall and were so impressed by it that we said we would make a return visit in the summer.  Well, last Sunday after we'd had a walk around the boardwalk at the nearby Jackson's Coppice and Marsh Nature reserve looking for damselflies and dragonflies we called into the garden for another look.  It was looking wonderful!

All the edges of paths were lined by lavender - the scent was magical as we walked around in the heat of the sun.

The fruit and vegetables were all looking good. 

The apples and pears were coming along nicely, above an apple variety called Red Falstaff and below a pear variety called Emile d' Heyst.  There were many different varieties of both eating and cooking apples and along the outer walls, quince, figs, plums and greengage to name just a few.

In part of the garden a marquee had been erected ready for a wedding event this coming weekend.  It looked so pretty inside.

A corner of the garden had been planted with wildflowers

 They almost shimmered in the bright sunlight.  It was so hard to capture just how beautiful they looked.

As you can imagine my camera went into overdrive as everywhere I looked there was so much beauty and so much of interest.

I'll let the photos speak for themselves!

I've missed doing a 'happies' post this week and probably won't join in next week either, I'm afraid I've been struggling with some sort of lurgy and not feeling well at all so I've been avoiding using the computer too much and just sitting in the garden reading or snoozing when I've had the chance.  Hope you all have a happy weekend.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Hare Hill Gardens

Hare Hill is a small garden belonging to the National Trust which can be found in the village of Over Alderley in Cheshire.  There is a circular two mile walk between the garden's car park and the other NT car park near The Wizard at Alderley Edge.  We'd previously walked from there to The Edge and back ( I wrote a post about it in September 2008) but had never been in the garden so last week, after a visit to John Lewis near Wilmslow,  we decided to stop and take a look.

It was a warm morning so we thought the sound of the woodland part of the garden was just what we were looking for.  As it happens the weather today is far hotter than ever it was last Thursday who'd have believed it?  I could do with being under those trees now!

The walk around the outer edges of the garden is known as the Woodland Walk and it is here that you can follow the trail and find all the sculptures of hares.  There is also a bird hide and  two or three ponds all linked by small wooden bridges and a rockery. The garden is noted for its rhododendron and azalea plants and also has a collection of  hostas.  Plenty of  bright acid green  ferns and tall, finger like foxgloves added to the feeling of cool and tranquillity in the dappled sunlight under the trees.

There are fourteen hare sculptures in all, thirteen of them in the garden and the fourteenth is by the stream on the circular walk.  I did photograph them all and have put a selection in a collage.  They are all carved from felled wood by local artist Ed Pilkington.  Some of them had name tags and some didn't.

The hare sculpture bottom left of the collage is the first one to be put in the garden - its name is Steve.  The one top right is Pat, the one top left is Mandy bottom right is David and the two boxing hares which are actually near the little coffee room are called Elaine and Phil.  I was somehow expecting them to have more magical, mystical names.  We wondered if they were actually names of some of the garden staff who were all very friendly and helpful.

In the centre of all this is the walled garden which is gated to stop the rabbits and hares (the real ones) getting in.  In the walled garden there is room to picnic, plenty of large sized games, like badminton, croquet  and tumble tower  for children to play on the grass and some rather wonderful wire horse sculptures which were very difficult to photograph in the sunshine against the plants.

I loved the walled garden  with its white pergola at one end.  It was wonderfully shady under there.

Over the seat under the pergola is a plaque which tells how the garden came to be.  It was apparently given to the Trust  by Charles Douglas Fergusson Phillips Brocklehurst in memory of his twin brother Patrick Heron Phillips Brocklehurst who was killed in a riding accident in 1930.  The Brocklehurst family lived at nearby Hare Hill Hall which is a private house.

Hope you all have a happy weekend.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

52 Weeks of Happy - Week Twenty Eight

Summer is here at last!  I seem to have spent the whole week in a sort of heat induced, slightly fazed out state of mind although some things have been achieved - I'm not quite sure how!  We managed to pick loads of gooseberries and quite a few strawberries in the cool early morning air one day last week and made jam and a summer pudding too.  We also visited a lovely woodland garden where it was blissfully cool walking under the trees.  I'll post more about the garden later next week and then go back to writing a few more posts about  places we visited on our recent stay in Wales. 

 Anyway here are four simple things that have made me smile this week

1.  Making Jam - we managed ten jars of gooseberry and five of strawberry.  I also used strawberries in the summer pudding plus raspberries and cherries bought locally.  I usually add blackcurrants which gives the pudding a richer, darker look but they still haven't ripened yet, so this one looks a bit paler than normal but it was very tasty and refreshing.

2.  Hare Sculptures - one of fourteen in and around Hare Hill the woodland garden we visited on Thursday morning.  As I mentioned above I'll write more about this small but lovely garden in my next post.  I was enchanted by it especially by the hares but also by the walled garden and the vegetable plot.

3. Squirrels - still keeping us amused, still pinching the bird food.  The one in the photo had managed to get the last bit of fat ball out of the feeder and was leaning on the fence post enjoying his plunder.  In the early morning and late evening there are three or four squirrels chasing each other and rolling around, I love watching them.  We sat out really late one evening when it was too warm to go inside and watched the bats swooping and diving, I was hoping to see the hedgehog or the fox, both of which leave evidence of their nocturnal visits, but they would, of course, have known we were there and kept away until we finally went indoors.

4. Mr B - aka  'Barbie Girl' - yes I know he's a male blackbird!  This is his third summer in and around our garden and he regales us with his song which sounds exactly like the first bit of the song by Aqua (I think!?) that goes 'I'm a Barbie girl, in a Barbie world' etc.  We aren't hearing it so much now but through May and June it was non stop from about 4.30a.m.  We know that it is Mr B singing that particular tune because we can recognise him from the grey bits on his sides.

Linking up with  Little Birdie  where  '52 weeks of Happy' started. Each week you find just four things that have made you happy to share.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013


The small village of Llanbedrog is one (we have many) of our favourite places to visit when we are in Wales.  It's a mixture of old and new.  Its former industrial landscape of quarries now a place of great beauty, of cool, woodland walks and long stretches of scrunchy, pebbly beach.

The interesting church of St Pedrog stands on an incline just off the main road between Pwllheli and Abersoch in front of the church  is a small garden with seats where you can sit quietly. 

The church is next door to 'the big house' which was part of the Madryn estate sold in 1896 to Solomon Andrews who opened a public art gallery there. 

 The Andrews family sold the estate in 1946 and the building remained closed to the public until 1976 when it was again opened as an art gallery by local artist Gwyneth ap Tomos and her husband Dafydd who set up a friends organisation. In 1996 Plas Glyn-y-Weddw was bought by a charitable trust set up by the friends organisation.

Plas Glyn y Weddw was built as a dower house in 1856 for Lady Elizabeth Love Jones-Parry of Madryn in the Victorian Gothic style.  It was also built to house her extensive art collection.

We have visited the gallery several times now, usually in time for afternoon tea in the cafe or out in the garden.  The house inside has some lovely features and also changing art exhibitions, events and a shop selling local craft work. Inside in the Andrews room there is a wonderful collection of Swansea and Nantgarw porcelain with some of the pieces painted by William Billingsley.  I always enjoy looking at this as we used to collect his work at one of the Museums I worked in many years ago; especially those pieces he decorated at Mansfield, Derby, Torksey and Nantgarw.

Above and below two of the sculptures to be found in the garden

From the gallery car park you can walk up the hill through the woodland to the viewing point and tin-man statue or from the main NT car park you can walk down the steps to the beach. 

 This time we chose to visit the beach.

 We walked for ages along the sea shore and back again

 I love this house on the beach  - it's called Fox Holes.

Llanbedrog beach is well known for its colourful beach huts.  You can hire one of the for about £12 - £15 a day depending on the time of year. 

 The building above is called the Boat House and now contains self-catering accommodation.

We left the beach and walked back to the art gallery where we sat and drank tea and ate cake in the garden whilst looking out beyond the houses and trees to the sea.