Friday, August 31, 2018

Scavenger Photo Hunt - August.

The photo hunt is a little different this month as words that sound similar but are spelt differently - homophone is the technical or is it grammatical term for this - have been chosen to challenge us.  It's been fun joining in again with Kate at 'I Live, I Love, I Craft, I am Me' blog for August's Scavenger Photo Hunt.

Tea/Tee, Thyme/Time, Aisle/Isle, Fairy/Ferry, Flour/Flower/Own choice

Tea - an abandoned cup on a wall not far from the entrance to a local garden centre.  I wondered if it had been brought out to a workman full of tea?  Or if the owner had wandered to the gate, cup in hand put it down and then forgotten about it? Who knows.

Tee - just happened to be the answer to the clue 'golf peg' in the 'i' newspaper crossword one day last week.

Thyme - growing in the kitchen garden at Biddulph Grange in Staffordshire which we visited a couple of weeks ago - it's our nearest National Trust property.

Time - in Mr Bateman's Geological gallery at Biddulph Grange.  This corridor was the main entrance into the gardens from the house.  From the far end it relates the passage of millions of years through it's display of fossils. More - here

Aisle - a photo taken from the central aisle of St Mary's Church, Nantwich, Cheshire through the chancel to the sanctuary.

Isle - a photo taken in late June in Tideswell in Derbyshire.  This was one of the seven well-dressings scattered around the village.  It depicts the Laxey Wheel on the Isle of Man.  More - here

Fairy - abandoned or lost fairy wings close by the Fairy Village in the woodlands at RSPB Coombes Valley near Cheddleton in Staffordshire.  We spotted these on a recent walk there. There was probably a very upset little fairy somewhere who wondered where her wings were.

Ferry - I had to look back into the archives for this one. Taken on a visit to Liverpool a couple of years ago.  The Dazzle Ferry designed by artist Sir Peter Blake.
More - here

Flower - a Zinnia flower in our garden complete with  a painted lady butterfly, thank you Shazza for the identification. 

Flour - some interesting bread making flours on display in a nearby supermarket.

Own choice -  one of this year's male fox cubs in the garden.  The male foxes of this family have white tips to their tails, long noses and black forelegs.

The females have, softer faces and bushy tails with no white tip.  Above is the mother of this year's cubs including the one in the previous photo.

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

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Lavender, Berries and Poppies

What a strange year it has been so far.  Even at the height of summer there are distinct signs of Autumn  in the hedgerows.

Sun bleached grass paths, mown fields in the distance and the last of the wonderful rows of lavender at the Shropshire Lavender farm.  The lavender flowers were covered in bees and little blue butterflies.  Both hard to capture on camera but the scents and aromas were sending them into a frenzy in the heat of the early afternoon sun.

After coffee with a lavender scone and a piece of lemon and lavender cake - thank you for the recommendation Mrs Tiggywinkle, both were delicious - we wandered around the rest of the garden and orchard.

I love orchards, the warmth, the scent and the colour at this time of year. 

Apples and pears were falling to the floor as branches were weighed down by so many fruits.

 What did strike me though was the amount of berries on each of the bushes and trees around the garden

Above - Rowan Berries

Above - Red Currants

The next day we took an early morning walk at RSPB Coombes Valley

  Here I spotted ripening blackberries.

Crab Apples and below a Red Admiral butterfly more signs of late summer and the closeness of the changing of the seasons.
A few days later we walked along the canal from Westport Lake to Middleport Pottery.

The elder bushes were full of ripe berries, such a wonderful colour to guide us on our way.

As we passed by the pottery we could see the display of poppies which makes up 'The Weeping Window.'  Many of the ceramic poppies from the installation 'Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Blood' first shown at the Tower of London in 2014 were made in the city so it is nice for some of them to return home for a while.  The exhibition can be seen at Middleport Pottery until 16th September and we will probably visit in early September so I will write more about it then.

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

August Garden

After all the heat of the last few week a lot of the garden is looking very brown and dreary but wandering up and down early morning and late evening with watering cans has kept some of the blooms looking quite healthy.  

The free packet of Zinnia seeds we got from the front of a magazine earlier this year have been productive.
The first sowing of seeds didn't germinate so a second batch was sprinkled on top of compost in the rather scruffy looking blue plastic tub just as a test and look what happened!

 We've never grown Zinnias before so I was fascinated to see them grow and notice how the petals on each flower seem to layer and thicken as they grow.

Echinaceas have done well this year - this plant has been struggling to produce more than a couple of blooms for three or four summers. 

This year it has produced quite a few flowers and the bees love them.

The Japanese anemones are doing well too after a bit of a set back when some of the leaves scorched and crinkled like paper in the bright sunlight.  We only have pink ones now, the whites seem to have disappeared.

Hydrangeas too have been struggling and have needed lots of water.  The blue one above starts out a bright blue and gradually turns to a soft lilac colour.

At the other side of the garden the flowers are pink. All to do with the pH balance of the soil. 

The sweet peas are still flowering and I keep taking off the seed pods to keep them going.

I was glancing down the path towards the gate when I saw what looked like a sweet wrapper, went down to pick it up and saw the little faces of the flowers of this self-seeded viola looking at me.  It is very small and growing in a crack between the concrete slabs of the path near to where the gate opens.  We've been trying to avoid stepping on it as we go in and out of the gate.

Now the nesting season is over the time has come to cut the holly hedge that runs across the top of the garden.

It's quite a task and the cuttings fill at least three garden wheelie bins over several weeks as we gradually empty the bags we store them in.
What is growing in your August Garden?

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

Saxon Crosses

I've been aware for ages that there were Saxon Crosses to be found in the centre of the town in Sandbach in Cheshire but had never been either to the town or to see the crosses.  It isn't very far to travel up through the Potteries and out into South Cheshire so we decided it was high time for a visit.

The town itself was delightful with many old buildings. We made our way from the Waitrose car park through a modern shopping area into the town.  It wasn't long before we spotted the crosses on The Cobbles.

I thought that perhaps they may have cars parked near them or that perhaps people would be sitting nearby but thankfully they were completely clear and we could take a few photos without intruding on anyone.

 These two crosses are Grade 1 listed, made of sandstone and would originally have been brightly painted and decorated with jewels and metal work. They have been dated to around the 9th Century and are thought to be some of the most important monuments connected to the Saxon Kingdom of Mercia.  The taller of the two crosses is about 16 feet or 4.8 metres high and the smaller is 11 feet or 3.3 metres high.  There was reportedly a third cross.

 The carvings draw heavily on the motifs and techniques of metal working and show the prestige of the jeweller in Anglo-Saxon Society.  There are also Scottish and Continental influences in the depiction of the biblical scenes carved into them.

The first mention of the crosses comes in 1585 when they were to be seen in the market place after the town had been granted a charter for two fairs and a weekly market.   They were dismantled in the 17th century because the Puritans didn't like religious imagery and disappeared into people's garden walls and footpaths. They were found by local antiquarian George Ormerod in the early 19th century (c. 1816) and gradually pieced together.  Similar sandstone was used to replace the missing parts.

There are more pieces to be found in the nearby churchyard. They could be pieces of the third cross. They were moved there for safety in 1950 when the crosses came into the hands of the Ministry of Works.  They are now cared for by English Heritage.

 On one side of the smaller cross is depicted the story of King Paeda of Mercia, son of pagan King Penda, who converted to Christianity c650.

 Here is a link to an article about the crosses which gives a lot more information about their historic background - The Journal of Antiquities

St Mary's Church is quite large and had three wonderful arches under the tower.  The tower sits over a public footpath which passes under the arches.

As I wandered under the arch I spotted the early carved memorial stone below.

It is dedicated to Mary, the first wife of Robert Smith who died in 1687.

Back in the town we had a wander around a few street and shops.  Above is 'Ye Olde Black Beare Inn' built in 1634.  It is the last remaining thatched building in the town centre. 

 Opposite, and not far from the Saxon Crosses is the War Memorial.

The front of the Town Hall which dates from 1889 and retains many of its Victorian Gothic features.  The interior was refurbished in 2013.

 Above the drinking fountain of 1897 is Grade 11 listed and designed by Thomas Bower architect of the town hall.
The pub on the left is called The Lower Chequer.

There were some lovely window boxes and hanging baskets decorating some of the shop, pubs and houses in the town.

I was intrigued by the name of this street but have as yet been unable to find out anything about it's origin.