Monday, 2 October 2017

I've waited all summer for butterflies to appear in my sunny garden, but even the prolific white blossom on the Buddleia didn't attract them this year.  However, suddenly they have arrived. The blossom has died, very few flowers remain, but here they are, fluttering and swooping close to the windows and even settling on the warm bricks of the wall by the door.
Butterfly half in shade by the front door
Other visitors to the garden are the sparrows!

Regular 2 o'clock meetings - perhaps it's Sparrows' Institute,
similar to Women's Institute.

Friday, 1 September 2017

Here we are with the last Bank Holiday weekend of the year already gone. 
It's hard to believe that summer is nearly over but I look back and realise how much I've enjoyed it. 
In June we had a special family gathering in Lewes, that elegant county town of East Sussex with its steep hills and narrow snickets, its historic castle and its gardens. It still has an abundance of cafes and individual shops – one especially appealing is a book shop catering solely for children. And wherever you look there are views of distant hills.
Small shop with a big stock

A View of the hills from Lewes town centre

A month later during Heritage week I was in Devon with a group of friends.  We enjoyed three wonderful outings, all in glorious sunshine. The first was by steam train, leaving a tiny station near Buckfast Abbey for a slow journey through beautiful countryside to another small station, Staverton, where we could walk along the platform and
inspect luggage that would have been used a hundred years ago. 
Then back the way we'd come.
Buckfast Abbey

The second outing was a tram ride from Colyton to Seaton, edging the River Exe on one side and a nature reserve on the other.  Butterflies were everywhere – such a contrast to my own area where there’s been a noticeable lack of them this year.
The pink tram that carried 50 passengers.
 Afterwards our own coach took us to the coast where we chose super brie and cranberry sandwiches in a typical seaside cafe. 
The chandelier there was a riot of psychedelic colours.
The fun chandelier

In contrast, the third outing was to Morewellham Quay – just across the river from Cornwall and classed as “the greatest copper port in Queen Victoria’s reign.” During a guided tour of the mine I was amazed to realise how little most people knew of the mines and the men who worked them.  Of course here in the north-east mines were always an accepted part of life. 

And to round off the summer there was all the fun of "Hamsterley Hoppings," a real old-English village fair just a few miles from home. The sun shone, the crowds were happy.  There were tug-of-war competitions and pet shows and children’s races as well as a blacksmith demonstrating how to shoe a horse. 

There was also a competition to guess the weight of a sheep. The black-headed animal stood quietly in his pen as visitors were advised that last year’s sheep weighed 60 and this one was heavier.
 “60 what?” somebody asked but I didn’t hear the answer. So I made a wild guess and needless to say I didn’t win but I did wonder what the prize might have been if I had.

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

May has been a beautiful month this year and the gardens are proof of this – even my own small one is looking good and my friend’s unusual, sloping garden is glorious.    
Double Poppies in Friend's Garden
Steep Rockery above the Poppies

 Several estates offer wonderful guided tours by Head Gardeners whose knowledge is breathtaking and makes all the difference to a visit.
The Himalayan Garden and Sculpture Park is half an hour’s ride from Ripon in Yorkshire. As its name implies there are steep paths (some with welcome handrails) amongst the most magnificent collection of Rhododendrons ever imagined and leading to the lower gardens with lakes and very realistic sculptures.
Steep Paths at Himalayan Gardens
Rhododendrons in full Bloom
Sculpture of a Swift.

In April there was a Tulip Festival near Leyburn. Again a treat for anybody who enjoys colour in their garden. Tulips, tall and short, mixed colours or plain and varieties that could never have been imagined. Again a guided tour, this time by a man who was expert at planting woods as well as growing tulips.
One of the Tulip Beds

And last weekend Raby Castle gardens at Staindrop were open to the public. No matter how familiar they have become there’s always something to appreciate. This time it was the Cat Mint in great swathes of colour. No photographs available but its well worth a visit.

Friday, 13 January 2017

Happy New Year to my friends across the world.
It is amazing to realise that the first two weeks of January have already come and gone and people are beginning to think ahead to the summer and plan holidays in warmer climates.
But today we have snow!!  Floods are forecast along the east coast and people warned to keep away from the sea-fronts as tides reach their height tonight. Fortunately I am far enough inland not to have that worry but we do have icy paths.
Wherever you are in the world I hope 2017 has started well for you and your weather is better than ours, here in England.