Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Photo Scavenger Hunt - June

Once again it's time to join in with the Photo Scavenger Hunt kindly organised by greenthumb at Made with Love  just click on the link  to find other participants.

J is for?

J is for Jay
An Animal Alphabet exhibition at the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery in the city centre.  Using paintings, ceramics and birds and animals from the wildlife displays in the galleries.


An old wheel hub spotted at Trentham Gardens.


The smooth rowing of the rower on the lake at Trentham Gardens


When I'm riding my exercise bike overlooking the garden I can imagine that I am cycling down a country lane under a canopy of trees, or across a coastal path overlooking the sea, or cycling through a typical English village past cottages with thatched roofs and roses around the door or in the realms of academe cycling to studies at an ancient college with books in the basket at the front of the bike.  


Classic scooter of the late 60s early 70s in a shop window display in King's Lynn.


These bears which reside in our sitting room are very similar aren't they?


A seat at Trentham Gardens- parallel slats in the seat both vertical and horizontal

Socks for sale in the shop at Norfolk Lavender, Heacham, King's Lynn


 Three Melon beads of the Roman period at the Jewry Wall Museum, Leicester


A mug with the first rose and some elderflowers in it.

 I love posting letters to friends

Whatever you want

I loved this little chap.  Just one day old when I took the photo he is a white-naped Crane at Pensthorpe Waterfowl Park in Norfolk.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Taking a Break

The first strawberries have been picked as have the first gooseberries.  There are roses and elderflowers in the garden and the cats are snoozing wherever and whenever they can.

It's time to take a short break.  

I'll see you all again soon.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Flint Castle

Last Monday, having spent the weekend at home we decided a day out was needed so we made a picnic lunch and were off early to drive up to Flint to visit the castle before crossing the Flintshire bridge to Connah's Quay and driving round to the RSPB Burton Mere Nature Reserve which is on the opposite side of the Dee estuary and which I featured on day fifteen of my 30 Days Wild blog.

There is a good car park close to the walk up to the castle and there was just us, a couple of local people and a Dutch family visiting the castle.  We had it almost to ourselves to discover and explore.  It is quite well maintained but there was a bit of litter about which seemed a shame.  Entry is free during opening hours.

The ruins are quite extensive with what remains of the four towers around the inner bailey.  Begun in 1277 it was one of the first of the castles to be built in Wales by Edward I.  It is often overshadowed by its fellow castles along this north west coastline namely Caernarfon, Conwy, Harlech and Beaumaris.

In view is the North-East tower and you can just see the estuary behind the great tower to the right of the photo above.
This is the main entrance with a bridge over the moat.

A view of the Dee estuary from the bridge over to the main gate

Looking upwards you can see how thick the walls are

Another view of the North-East Tower

Views up and down the estuary from the castle walls above the Connah's Quay power station and the Flintshire Bridge.

 The tower to the right of the main entrance is the Great or Donjon tower.  This is back across the moat by another bridge and cut off from the rest of the castle interior.

This is two stories high and was built as a final stronghold if the castle should be besieged.  It has galleries running around the central open area with two walls each 6ft in thickness with an open area or corridor about 20ft in diameter running in between the walls.

You can see these corridors in between the walls above and below

Below is a view across the inner bailey of the castle towards the North West Tower.  You can see the well in the centre.

Down in the moat beside the north east and north west towers

On the photo below you can see the modern lifeboat station behind the castle ruins.

We had a walk across the salt marshes on the estuary.

You could imagine the boats coming into the side of the castle

You can see the layout of the castle on the drawing below which I photographed on one of the information panels

From the castle is was just a short drive over the Flintshire Bridge to the south end of the Wirral and our second stop which was the RSPB Nature Reserve at Burton Mere.  I think I took this photo as we drove across the bridge on our way back home.

Much more information on Flint Castle can be found -  here

30 Days Wild, Week Three - Summary

Here is a summary of my adventures in week three of the 30 Days Wild challenge organised by the Wildlife Trusts in which you try to get out and about in nature and do something wild everyday, doesn't matter how big or small, just a little something everyday for thirty days.

Day 15
Visited the RSPB Nature Reserve at Burton Mere and saw a stoat

Day 16
Walked in the local park

Day 17
Found the Secret Garden in the local Museum

Day 18
Found an Angle Shades moth in the garden

Day 19
Was joined for a while in the garden by a young robin

Day 20
After rain went out to discover striped snails in the garden

Day 21
Walked in a local country park and down a canal towpath

You will find more on each of these on my 30 Days Wild blog - click on the link on my sidebar

Friday, June 19, 2015

Five on Friday

The last week seems to have flown by and Friday is here so quickly. Once again I'm joining in with  Amy at Love Made my Home for Five on Friday.  Click on the link at the bottom of this post to find others who are joining in too.

Five things that have cheered me and made me smile in a week where I've had a couple of upsetting pieces of news about some dear friends.

Anyway, here we go for Five on Friday

1.  The garden - above are the herbs in the raised bed, the bees are loving the chives and the thyme, the lavender is looking healthy although not in flower yet, there is also rosemary, sage and parsley in the bed.

Above a selection of the hardy geraniums we have in the garden.  Including Ann Folkard and Anne Thomson although the flowers are very similar Ann Folkard grows longer stems and gets quite 'gangly' whereas Anne Thomson is more compact.

2.  A Day Out -  After spending most of the weekend at home on Monday we packed a picnic and set out to visit a castle in Wales and a nature reserve on the Wirral.  Above are some photos I took at Flint Castle which is on the Dee Estuary.  I will write a longer post about it at some time.

Across the other side of the estuary is the RSPB Burton Mere nature reserve.  Where as well as lots of lovely birds we saw a stoat, southern marsh orchids and bee orchids.

3.  On Tuesday we had a walk locally in Queen's Park, Longton where we watched a young woodpecker trying its best to leave its nest.  I expect it has fledged now.

4.  The Secret Garden - On Wednesday we visited the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery up in the city centre and had a quick peek in the sensory garden that is hidden in a courtyard in the middle of the buildings.

5.  Cats - our cats always make me smile mostly for the fact that they are still with us at the grand age of nineteen.  Brother and sister Chloe, top and Max, below came to us when they were just one year olds and have been a source of happiness and sometimes worry too ever since. Max has to take his blood pressure tablets everyday and Chloe is quite deaf now - I can run the vacuum cleaner by her and she doesn't bat an eyelid.  They spend most of the day sleeping, they eat well and still pop out into the garden.  They do however wake us up quite a lot in the night with bouts of senior yowling and craving attention by patting chins and eyelids to wake us up - something they didn't do when they were younger.

Have a lovely weekend everyone.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

30 Days Wild - Week Two - Summary

I'm a bit late with this summary of week two of my attempts at '30 Days Wild'  for the Wildlife Trusts' month long project to promote getting out in nature and attempting small random acts of wildness each day.

I have written more on each of these in my special '30 Days Wild' blog - link in my sidebar but here are some of the highlights of that.

Day 8
Discovering the tree hide at Moseley Old Hall a National Trust property in the West Midlands.

Day 9
Finding urban green spaces - a walk on Festival Park, site of the 1986 National Garden Festival, now a commercial, leisure and retail complex by the Trent and Mersey Canal.

Day 10
A walk in Clumber Park and framing nature

Day 11
Spotting a young robin in the garden on the day the robin was announced as the nation's favourite bird.

Day 12
Clearing weed from the pond whilst looking for frogs and newts, pulling out all the goosegrass and finding out its many other names.

Day 13
Finding a flooded path and several creatures enjoying the wet garden

Day 14
Watching the bees on the flowers around the garden after the rain

Sunday, June 14, 2015

The Missing Mansion

On Wednesday we drove over to Chesterfield and collected my sister and her guide dog from her home and set out for Clumber Park which is only a few miles away.

We all have happy memories of Clumber Park for it was a great part of our childhood.  Weekend visits with family we would walk, play games, have a picnic and watch the cricketMuch has changed since then and there is so much more there now for visitors than when we were children.

We bought sandwiches from the cafe and sat outside close to the lake,  then we walked through some of the grounds past the chapel,  the rhododendrons were still in flower.  

There were lots of these little chaps about

and some intriguing things to find.

What I really wanted see on this visit was an exhibition called Clumber Park's Lost Treasures - The Missing Mansion before it closed this weekend.

Below is the description of the exhibition from their website

A magnificent mansion, home to the Dukes of Newcastle, once stood at the heart of Clumber Park. From its original construction in the 1760s to its demolition in 1938, the house underwent several changes, either to accommodate fashions of the time or as a result of damage caused by the fires of 1879 and 1912. We have laid out the mansion's ground floor to give you an insight into this family home and discover how the rooms would have once looked through a series of beautiful 'ghostly' images.

The outline of the ground floor had been constructed on the grass exactly where the mansion stood.  Here are some of the photos I took whilst following the trail around through the different rooms.

Apparently after a geophysical survey of the site of the former Clumber House staff searched old photos and guide books to find out what the rooms looked like.

In the photo above - the Yellow Drawing Room
Clumber was first mentioned in the Domesday Book and in the middle ages was 
a monastic settlement. It was enclosed in 1709 when it was owned by John Holles, the first Duke of Newcastle. Clumber House built at the side of the River Poulter in the centre of the park was a hunting lodge.  In 1759 work began on extending the house to make it a principal mansion for the family.

The Grand Hall

The parkland is 3,800 acres of woodland, open heath and farmland. The serpentine lake covers 87 acres and the avenue of lime trees at 3 miles long is the longest in Europe.

The house was rebuilt after a fire in 1879 and finally demolished in 1938.  The park was left to the people of  nearby Worksop by the late Duke of Newcastle but was bought by the National Trust in 1946.

Apparently one of the Dukes of Newcastle was a keen photographer and left many photos of the interior of the house.

I love the description of the kitchens
"very systematically arranged, with everything in the best order and most convenient readiness "

I hadn't realised until I saw the layout and the old photo of the mansion how close it was to the lake.

After an ice cream in the courtyard we walked up to the walled gardens

In the walled gardens are the huge glass houses

Everything inside was clean, bright and cheerful

It was time to think about getting back to Chesterfield and from there back home

Just a note about the chapel in the first photo.  This was built between 1886 and 1889.  Dedicated to St Mary the Virgin it is known as the 'cathderal in miniature', its spire is 180 feet high and the length of building from west to east in 140 feet.  It is years since I've been in and we didn't go inside on this visit as we were running out of time.