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. 

Sunday, January 28, 2018

RSPB's Big Garden Bird Watch

Each year we join in with the RSPB's Big Garden Bird Watch.  This year was no exception and we enjoyed taking part. 

Saturday was very wet and windy so we decided, as the recipe came with the pack we received, to make the Bird watch Bites to eat with coffee whilst sitting for an hour counting birds today.

They were quite easy to make once all the ingredients were assembled.  I used dried cranberries instead of raisins and desiccated coconut instead of flakes as they were in the cupboard.

They came out quite well the photo above is of the first batch.  

They soon cooled down enough to try one with morning coffee

The ingredients made fifteen in all so plenty for the next day or two.

We sat down around eleven o'clock today and saw quite a few birds but not as many as usual because of the rain and wind.  No sign of the group of goldfinches which usually visit our feeders nor as many sparrows as usual.
Paul managed a few photos whilst I was busy in the kitchen baking cakes for my next door neighbour for an afternoon tea following a funeral tomorrow. 


 Male Blackbird

Then we started the count

In our chosen hour we saw:-

3 Blackbirds
1 Blue Tit
1 Chaffinch
1 Dunnock
8 House Sparrows
3 Robins
13 Starlings 

also 1 Wren and 1 Goldcrest which weren't on the main list but could be recorded elsewhere.

Where were the wood pigeons, goldfinches and magpies that we usually see? Perhaps they were on a day's outing somewhere!

Did you do the bird count?  How did you get on and what did you see?

Friday, January 26, 2018

Scavenger Photo Hunt January 2018

 It's time to share the photos I took for the first Scavenger Photo Hunt of 2018 organised by Kate at 'I live, I love, I craft, I am me' blog.  There are six word prompts this time - Yellow, It starts with an 'O', light, found, colourful and my own choice.

 Yellow - Toy Giraffes on wheels at the Peak Wildlife Park, near Leek in Staffordshire.

It starts with an 'O' - Owl - a sculpture in Trentham Gardens, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire.

Light - on snow covered fields on the Staffordshire/Derbyshire border not far from the town of Buxton.

Found - we have taken out a month's access to Find My Past as we wanted to look at the 1939 Register.  I found my Mum and Dad and my Dad's parents but couldn't find my Mum's parents and sister and Dad's sister.  I eventually found them all but they were very hard to find because whoever had transcribed the original had spelt surnames wrongly.  My grandparents and Mum's younger sister were found at the address I remember visiting as a small child in the 1950s I knew that they should be at that address so waded through pages until I found them. My Dad's sister was found lodging with a family on Granby Road in Leicester where her employment was listed as a nurse.

Colourful - a parrot figure in the houseplant section at Bridgemere Garden World, Cheshire.

My Own Choice - a collage of alternative photos for the above categories.
Found - delicate little pink cyclamen flowers hiding in the undergrowth, the first yellow daffodils of the season, light on silver birch trees, colourful flowers at the garden centre and an old, leafless oak tree.

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