Monday, February 26, 2018

Monday Miscellany

Just a few things that have made me smile over the last few days

 Dolly, the cat from next door sitting in the heather just in front of our kitchen window.  A few days before there was a knock at the door and our neighbour came to say that she thought Dolly was stuck up a tree at the top of our garden as she could hear her mewing.  Paul took the car out of the garage, retrieved the ladders from the hooks on the garage wall and took them up to the top of the garden. He clambered up and found Dolly sitting on a flat piece of trunk unable to get down.  She was very grateful to be rescued and let him pick her up and carry her down the ladders.  She's such a pretty cat.  The feather which looks as if it is in her mouth is actually stuck to the heather it has been there for days and it still there this morning I expect it will soon disappear under the expected snow.

We had a walk around the lake at Trentham Gardens early last week and whilst we were there we saw a display of birds of prey.  I was fascinated with the markings and the bright eyes of the eagle owl.  It being half-term here there were children and parents about and they were listening in fascination to the handler explaining about how the owl's head appears to turn all the way round, apparently owls can rotate their necks to around 260 degrees and not tear any tendons or blood vessels.   The owl obligingly demonstrated this technique a couple of times.

 I'm still smiling at the thought of the snowdrops we saw at Hopton Hall in Derbyshire which we visited last Wednesday (see my post before last for more snowdrop photos).

Saturday we went for a very cold walk at RSPB Coombes Valley. By the time we got back to the car my finger ends were tingling and my feet were numb but I felt so much better for having been in the fresh air for a while. We didn't see many birds just a pair of pheasants, a dunnock, one or two robins and one tree creeper.  We also saw a buzzard flying overhead, whirling over the trees. 

 A couple of days ago Paul glanced out of our bedroom window and saw a fox curled up in the undergrowth over the hedge in the area of trees between us and the school grounds he took the photo of it above.  The foxes have been very noisy over the last few days.  He is one of last year's cubs and he spent quite a time there and we saw him there again the following day.  I wondered if the female fox had had her cubs and he had retreated to a quiet spot out of the way?  When I looked up the time cubs were usually born it said March or April but a fox lover I follow on face book has reported that the female fox which visits his garden has had her cubs behind his shed so perhaps it isn't too early.  If there are early cubs I hope they will stay safe during the expected cold spell next week.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Scavenger Photo Hunt - February 2018

Joining in once again with the Scavenger Photo Hunt organised by
by Kate at 'I live, I love, I craft, I am me' blog. The word prompts for February's hunt are white, metal/metallic, camouflage, it begins with a J, bud and your own choice.

White - print on a green tee shirt.  Modelled by Paul who knows quite a bit about pterosaurs.  Here is a link to his blog on all things pterosaur.

 Metal/Metalic - wave sculpture at the side of the lake at Trentham Gardens,
Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire plus the metal rails from the miniature railway which runs alongside it.  Designed by John Warland The Waves is from the World Vision gardens exhibited at both RHS Chelsea and Hampton Court flower shows in 2016.

Camouflage - I think this cat thought it had camouflaged itself under the hedge in the Victoria Park at Stafford.  I said 'hello puss' to it but it stayed rigidly still until we had passed by.

Begins with a 'J' - Jackdaw by the River Derwent at Rowsley near Bakewell in Derbyshire.

 Bud - I think of an Amaryllis in the glass house at Victoria Park, Stafford.

Own Choice - The Kugel Stone in the courtyard at Carsington Water which lies between Ashbourne and Cromford in Derbyshire.  The Kugel is a sphere of granite that revolves on a thin film of water.  The water is pumped into the granite at two different speeds making the Kugel spin on its own.  Kugel is a German word for stone and this stone is honed from natural granite to a precise diameter of 90cm.

Click on the link below to find other bloggers who are joining in this month.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Snowdrops at Hopton Hall

We had a wonderful morning at Hopton Hall Gardens which is in the village of Hopton close to Carsington Water in Derbyshire. It is quite a long time since we last visited and there had been quite a lot of changes and additions.  The walk seemed quite a bit longer and there were some new areas to explore. 

We followed the Snowdrop Walk around the garden.

The snowdrops lay in patches under the trees stretching into the distance like drifts of newly fallen snow.

So magical, so beautiful

A feast for the eyes.

We followed the gold arrows along the well maintained paths.  After an early 'mizzle' in the air, the skies cleared and the sun appeared above the trees.

There was a lot to see. I loved the layout of the garden and the stone walls.

The path gradually wound us round toward the hall.

More snowdrops amongst the papery leaves left from autumn and mossy stones and logs.

Another beautiful stone wall.

Aconites amongst Heuchera

Statue opposite the hall entrance with a lovely view behind it.

Pretty, delicate Hellebore flowers.

Inside the walled garden which has lovely curved red brick walls between the edge of the garden and the road outside.

A view of the Hall parts of which date back to c. 1414.  For 600 years it was the  seat of the Gell family.  The estate used to have about 3,700 acres to its name.  some of this is now where Carsington Water reservoir lies.  Over the years the hall is said to have housed Mary Queen of Scots, Oliver Cromwell and Queen Caroline within its walls.  John Gell was created a baronet in recognition of his efforts on behalf of Oliver Cromwell. Sir William Gell, who was a classical archaeologist, was also Chamberlain to Caroline, queen consort of George II.

Daffodils down by the lakes.  It won't be long before they are in bloom.

There were lovely reflections on the larger of the lakes but it was quite cold in the sunshine.

An Eagle Statue.

Above are more views of the garden which opens again for the roses in July and August.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Monday Miscellany

It seems such a long time since I wrote a Monday Miscellany post so I thought I'd write one this week with just a few things that have made me smile over the last couple of weeks.

By the River Sow in the county town of Stafford and just outside the entrance to Victoria Park stand what remains of the now demolished Town Mill.  The wheels have been preserved in their original location. The mill was built in 1834 by George Brewster on the site of the original medieval mill.  The early 19th century mill was demolished in 1957 and the mill pond is now part of the nearby park.

The park is undergoing restoration and enhancement at the moment with the help of the Heritage Lottery Fund.  We are going to go back in Spring to see more of this garden with its bowling green, flower borders and elegant bridges over the River Sow which runs through the middle of the park.
There is a wonderful glass house which was most welcome in the cold weather.  The colour of the lilies above caught my eye.

Last week we visited the City of Chester.  Again it was cold and very wet so we drifted towards the Grosvenor Museum.  You can't beat an interesting Museum and Art Gallery in wet weather.
The Museum was built in 1886 to house the collections of the Chester Archaeological Society and also those of the Chester Society of Natural Science Literature and Art.  To the rear of the building is 20 Castle Street which is the Museum's period house.  It shows a sequence of rooms dating from 1680 to 1925.  There is also a refreshment area near the gift shop set out as it might have been during the second world war.

17th century room

World War II refreshment area offering hot and cold drinks and small snacks.
Tea and a Tunnock's tea cake anyone?

Replica Roman pot in the 'hands on' school section of the Roman Gallery. Of course Chester is famous for its Roman remains.  It was founded during the reign of the Emperor Vespasian in AD79 as a 'castrum' or fort. Its name Deva Victrix came from the Legio XX Valeria Victrix which was based there.

Ammonites in the Natural History Gallery.

Last week we walked around Westport Lake in very cold but bright weather.  As we glanced towards the small ponds which lie at the back of the paths around the lake we saw a flash of bright blue.  A Kingfisher!   It sat for quite a while with its back to the path overlooking one of the small pools.  Not a great photo but it was lovely to see it and to take a photo of it just as it turned its head sideways.

Over the last few days I've been having difficulties with my blog getting a 'whoops - that's an error' notice when I try to access it. It seems to finally pop up after refreshing the page a couple of times. I've done all the suggested things like getting rid of cookies and clearing history but it is still happening. I assumed at first that it was my lap top but after visiting a 'help' forum it seems I'm not the only one so I'm assuming it is a google blogspot problem.  Is anyone else affected by this?  Apologies if you have had difficulties visiting me here, I hope the problem resolves itself soon.

Sunday, February 04, 2018

Sunday Morning Walk

It was so good to get out in the fresh air after staying at home all day yesterday due to the awful wet weather.

We took our usual Sunday walk at Consall Nature Park where there are lots of posters around telling visitors that another administrative body are taking over the running of the reserve from Staffordshire County Council. It doesn't say which organisation willl be taking over but I've a feeling it might be the RSPB as they have events listed there in their 2018 calendar.

We walked down past the fishing lakes and through the woods to the Caldon Canal and the railway line belonging to the Churnet Valley Railway.

There were lots of people with cameras about.  What were they looking for?

 We didn't have to wait long to find out as, in the distance, we heard the evocative sound of rumble, chuff and toot and saw the grey/black steam of the engine.

 It was fabulous to see them passing by each other in the little station.
Although two of the engines were from the USA the sounds they made and the steam they made reminded me of childhood train rides.

After speaking to one or two people taking photos and standing for a while chatting to some neighbours who live a few doors away from us and who were on their way to the canal side pub for lunch, we meandered down  past the pottery to the lock and then back again towards the station.

I love the way the canal, railway and river all run at the side of each other through the valley.

 Also the old stone walkway and steps.  How many feet must have walked up and down these over the years?

The canal still goes up to Etruria in the centre of the city of Stoke on Trent but doesn't go to Uttoxeter any more, it stops further along the canal at Froghall where it is just s short walk from the canal to the station where the steam trains were headed on their journey from Cheddleton. 

 We wanted to see the third steam train which was running on the railway today and we were just in time to see it.  One of the men we spoke to told us that this one was on its last journey up here before heading back to its home on the Dartmouth Steam Railway in Devon where it will undergo maintenance and refitting before it runs again.

One of my ambitions is to travel on the Dartmouth Steam Railway to visit Greenway, Agatha Christie's home near the River Dart.  Maybe one day I will manage that and maybe this engine will take me there.

A link to Paul's blog for more information on the engines.