Monday, March 31, 2014

Walking near Water

I've got very behind with my posts recently and have many places we've visited over the last few weeks to report on not least our visits to Stafford Castle and to Cresswell Crags.  In lieu of not getting to see the sea yet this year we have found ourselves drifting towards walks around lakes and along canal sides especially in the warmer, sunnier weather we've been experiencing.  On Saturday morning we walked along a stretch of the Shropshire Union Canal from the Staffordshire Wildlife's nature reserve at Loynton Moss and along the canal towpath as far as the Anchor Inn and back.  Firstly, however, I'm going to share some photos taken on some of the walks we've done over the last two or three weeks.

Reflections on the Caldon Canal at Consall Country Park in the Churnet Valley

One side of the station platforms hangs over the canal

More reflections -  of the bridge over the canal

and of a moored canal boat

 Reflections of boats on Rudyard Lake

I've probably told you in a previous post

that Mr and Mrs John Lockwood Kipling

named their son Rudyard

because of their love of this lake and this part of the world.  The couple met at Burslem here in the city when John Lockwood Kipling worked on the front of the Wedgwood Institute about which I wrote a post here.  Rudyard Kipling's mother was born Alice MacDonald and was one of four daughters of a Methodist Minister.  Her sister Georgiana married the artist Sir Edward Burne-Jones.

On such a sunny day as the one we chose to walk on

I can see why they and so many other people over the years have loved this place and often return again and again.

Swans on the River Trent 

Which flows close by the Wolseley Centre

the headquarters of the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust.

 At one of their reserves, Loynton Moss, near Woodseaves, you can follow a path through woodland down to the towpath of the Shropshire Union Canal.

It was so quiet and peaceful down on the towpath.  There were buzzards mewling above our heads, thermalling high in the sky, yellow butterflies fluttering around the bright celandines on the bank side and we saw the iridescent blue of kingfishers darting in a straight line down the canal.
Spring seems to be finally with us at last!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Kindness of Bloggers

A few weeks ago I left a comment on Elizabeth's blog 'Blissful Quilts' about how her newly made tea cosy and her lovely Portmeirion tea pot reminded me of home.  The reason was that it all looked so familiar as we have the same colour spotty tablecloth and most of our plates and dishes are Portmeirion seconds from the nearby factory shop.

Elizabeth kindly responded with an e-mail asking if I would like to have a tea cosy to match my tablecloth as she had some extra fabric.  Well, of course, the answer was yes I would.   The beautifully made tea cosy arrived in the post not long after and I'm thrilled with it and it has been much admired.  The blogging world can be such a kind and caring place.  Thank you Elizabeth!

Friday, March 21, 2014

At a Shopping Centre Near You?

Follow the Herd is a National Tour of Elephant art works which is visiting many of the intu shopping centres around the country.  As the Potteries Shopping Centre is now owned by intu the tour is on display there until 6th April.  The tour of the Elephant Parade is designed to raise greater awareness of the plight of the Asian elephant.

We managed to see all the Elephants which are spread over three floors.   Above from left to right -
Spirit by Alex Jones and Mercy Delta, Flower Impression by Pimpapa Dumdej and Love Story by Kesorn Mueanpang.  These were the first three we saw as we entered the centre on the top floor.

Above is Pira-phant by Keith Siddle and Yonis Abdulle.  Behind is Mosha by Diana Francis - apparently it was the story of Mosha that started the idea of the Elephant Parade.

Above are The Butterfly Effect by Jane Veveris Callan and Elephants communicating by Ratchakrit Wichalyo.

I loved the blue and white elephant above as it reminded me of the blue and white china this area is famous for - it's called Sunday Best and was designed by Anna Masters.

I also liked this one outside the pound shop - Little Sweetie by Charlotte Brown

There is a pop up shop where you can see elephants, buy elephants and decorate elephants.

By the time we'd had a look around, picked up the trail and seen all the elephants on display we'd forgotten what we went in for - but that really didn't matter at all.

In the collage - Red Arrow by Richard Powell, Forest by Claudia Schiffer, Stop the Traffic by Christine Wilcox-Baker and Jack on Tour by Ratchakrit Wichalyo.  The next shopping centre to welcome the Elephant Parade is in Norwich.

Hope you all have a great weekend!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Signs of Spring

You know it's Spring when..........

There are daffodils bobbing in the breeze along the grass verges

When the lawnmower comes out of the shed and the grass gets its first cut

 When the wild garlic makes an appearance under the trees at the top of the garden

and the tomato seedlings in the greenhouse and conservatory are beginning to look sturdy

When the rhubarb appears in one of the raised beds

and the first few sticks come into the house to make a crumble

You also know it is Spring when the cats start to take notice of the pond

which is full of frogs and frogspawn.  Not to mention the robins gathering nesting material and disappearing too fast for me to photograph into a conifer quite close to the steps near the back door.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Purple Crocus

I always look forward to this lovely drift of hundreds of purple crocuses when they come into bloom at Trentham Gardens

It really is a cheering sight

This year a notice has appeared to explain why the purple crocuses have been planted here.

I remember when I was a child in the 1950s there being talk of people having polio - all us children had to be vaccinated against it and diphtheria too.  I remember the illustrations of people in iron lungs and seeing people on crutches or wearing metal leg braces who had suffered from polio.  What a dreadful disease it is.

The rotary clubs internationally support the continued vaccination of children across the world and each year hold a 'purple pinkie day'.   This is because when a child has been vaccinated against polio on national immunisation day they have their little finger dyed purple to show that they have been treated under the 'end polio now' campaign.

Apparently polio has been eradicated from all but three areas of the world. The disease can still be found in Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan but it is hoped that, because of campaigns like this,  the world can be completely polio free by 2018.

Thursday, March 06, 2014

In a Topiary Garden

We'd  visited Elvaston Castle Country Park on a couple of occasions in the last few years but this time we hadn't intended to visit at all. Somehow we got ourselves onto the wrong road when trying to find and photograph churches at Allestree and Spondon in Derby.  The photography as I think I've mentioned in earlier posts is for Paul's family history website.  We'd taken some photographs of Allestree church and the traffic at the Little Eaton roundabout was horrendous due to roadworks so after we'd taken the wrong turning for Spondon we didn't want to go back towards Kedleston Hall which is where we had intended stopping for a picnic and a walk.  When we saw the signs for Elvaston we revised our plans as we knew we could eventually get round  to Spondon via Ockbrook and Borrowash.

I'm really glad that we did revise our plans because even though we'd visited twice before we'd never ventured further than the walk up to the castle and the courtyard and shop.  This time we walked around the lake and around the churchyard as well as discovering the wonderful parterre and  topiary gardens.

At the centre of Elvaston Castle Country Park is of course the Castle which was rebuilt in the early 19th century in the Gothic revival style for its then owner the third Earl of Harrington.  There is a cafe in one of the rooms in the castle which is now owned by Derbyshire County Council but the rest of the building is closed except for a couple of times a year when the Gothic Hall only is open.  The first of these happened just a few days before our visit but I'd love to go back again to find out more.

The third Earl's son Charles Stanhope, Viscount Petersham was a noted Regency Buck and Dandy who was a crony of the Prince Regent.  In his later years he met and fell in love with Maria Foote a successful actress who was also quite notorious for her involvement in a 'breach of promise' trial.

It is said that the 4th Earl of Harrington, as Viscount Petersham later became, created the gardens, which were designed by William Barron, as a love token for his beautiful actress wife who loved the glamour and theatricality of it all.

The church of St Bartholomew is sited close to the castle or mansion house.  The churchyard was a sea of snowdrops and there were some fascinating grave stones.  Unfortunately the church was closed so we couldn't look inside but it is the parish church for the villages of Elvaston, Thulston and Ambaston.

There is a nice walk around the lake which is surrounded on one side by 'mock' rock and cave follies made from Tufa which is a variety of limestone found mostly around nearby Matlock and Cromford.  There is still a lot more to go back and discover - the old English walled garden, heritage orchard, heronry, nature reserve and a longer walk down to the river Derwent.

I've recently downloaded a fairly newly written book about the story of the making of the Topiary Garden at Elvaston which I hope to read quite soon. It's called  A Topiary Garden - The Actress, the Dandy and the Gardener. A Story of Elvaston Castle in the 1820s  and written by Lynda Aylett-Green.

Monday, March 03, 2014

The Year in Books - March

In March I'm reading The Outcast Dead by Elly Griffiths, the sixth book in her crime series featuring forensic archaeologist Ruth Galloway and DCI Harry Nelson.  I started reading this at the weekend and as always I'm straight into the story and don't want to put the book down.  I love the characters of Ruth Galloway and DCI Harry Nelson, not to mention Flint, Ruth's cat, daughter Kate and Druid friend Cathbad and the descriptions of the lonely salt marsh where Ruth's cottage is situated.  This book is set around an archaeological dig in the grounds of Norwich Castle and already I'm intrigued by the story and it's link back to an earlier book.  Along with Stephen Booth, Ann Cleeves and Susan Hill with her Simon Serailler novels,  Elly Griffiths is one of my favourite modern crime writers at the moment.

I enjoyed reading February's book Summer in February so much so that I've downloaded it onto my Kindle to read again later this year as the book I read had to go back to the library.  Other books I read in February are, as usual, on my sidebar.  

Linking with The Year in Books at Laura's  A Circle of Pine Trees blog