France – Monet’s Garden

It seems a long time ago since my old friend Rosie suggested that I accompany her on a voyage of discovery around the British Isles. A chance to see new places and to re-discover my penchant for travel. We were to embark on an eight night cruise starting from Tilbury in Essex (London International Cruise Terminal)

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Leaving Tilbury

travelling in an anti-clockwise direction around the British Isles and stopping in Northern Scotland, the Isle of Lewis, the Isle of Mull, Ireland, the Scilly Isles and across the English Channel to Honfleur in France. The circle would be complete on our return to Tilbury. It was to be my first holiday for a long time and my very first cruise.

You need a ship to cruise and I was very pleased to find that this one met my perception of a traditional cruise ship. Small by modern standards but perfectly formed. This view was taken from the tender on our return from a day trip to the Scilly Isles.

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Astoria

From there, we crossed the Channel overnight to France  and docked, on the last day of April, in the small port of Honfleur which is on the southern bank of the River Seine in Normandy. The large commercial port of Le Havre is across the estuary on the north bank of the river.

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Honfleur

We boarded a coach at the dockside for our journey to Monet’s Garden but the route did not take us past the old picturesque 16th- to 18th-century townhouses which feature in some artists work, including Monet, so the above was the best view I could get.

It is about 85 miles, and took less than 2 hours to get to Giverny, where Claude Monet and his family settled in 1883. He set about creating a walled garden in front of his house which would be full of perspectives, symmetries and colours and became Clos Normand. He became a bit of a botanist, spending a lot of money collecting plants and after 10 years set about acquiring more land adjacent to his, but across a road and railway and which, importantly,  contained a brook. He used this to create a pond and water garden full of asymmetries and curves. It is inspired by the Japanese gardens that Monet knew from the prints he collected avidly. So, that’s the background and now my attempt to show you what there is to see.

From the coach park we entered through the water garden following the brook meandearing through bamboo and clumps of pastel hued plants.

You are required to keep to the paths and as you make your way through the aspect opens up and you get first sight of the placid, still, pool.

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Finding reflections

The biggest problem with trying to get some of these photos is the number of visitors in the garden (getting in the way 😉 ) and deciding how much time you can spend in any spot as there is so much to see and at this point you don’t really know the extent of the gardens.

Then you just know that you have come across the famous Japanese bridge covered with wisterias, which you cannot see as it is too early in the year.

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That bridge

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Reflection of the Japanese bridge

I did my best to capture the view but have not really done it justice.

From here you have to cross road and rail to get to the walled garden using an underpass. Emerging out into the open you get your first glimpse. The house can just be seen at the top of the photos.

We are now in the original garden which is laid out more formally than the water garden and has a number of avenues enclosing beds with clumps of flowers with co-ordinating colours. Fruit trees and climbing plants add height and structure.

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A riot of colour – tulips and wallflowers

It was spring time so flowering bulbs were everywhere.

I was very impressed to see these Crown Imperials standing high above the tulips and wallflowers and will have a go at growing some for next spring.

The main alley below, closed to public access, is covered by arches for climbing roses and provides a perspective to and from the main house.

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Avenue de la Maison

I made up that title by the way, but would love to see it when the roses are in flower.

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Tulips and tulips

A view across the garden, which I hope shows the extent of planting. I haven’t really shown any of the flowering trees, but this one caught my eye also while looking  across

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View through fruit tree blossom

Moving rapidly on we went into the house to have a look around and see how the master painter turned gardener lived, in some style.

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Monet’s house

The house and garden fell into disrepair after the Second World War and it was only about 1970 that work began on restoration.

“Almost ten years were necessary to restore the garden and the house to their former magnificence. Not much was left. The greenhouse panes and the windows in the house were reduced to shards after the bombings. Floors and ceiling beams had rotted away,  a staircase had collapsed. Three trees were even growing in the big studio.

The pond had to be dug again. In the Clos normand soil was removed to find the original ground level. Then the same flower species as those discovered by Monet in his time were planted.

Thanks to generous donors, mostly from the USA ,the house was given a facelift. The ancient furniture and the Japanese prints were restored. Then the visitor areas were fitted out.

The property has been open to the public since September 1980.”  – courtesy of http://giverny.org/gardens/fcm/visitgb.htm 

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Interior of Monet’s House

The view from upstairs.

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A wider perspective

and the view down the central alley from the house

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Reverse Avenue de la Maison

I will finish with my personal favourite, a view through the window across the flower bed

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View from inside

which I think, looks great full screen.

I hope there were not too many photos for one post, that i have given you an idea of the marvel of Monet’s vision and that you have enjoyed your visit almost as much as the half a million visitors who pass through the garden each year.

Thanks for your time.

 

New Year Fresh Resolve

New Year Fresh Resolve

I did sort of decide some time ago that I wasn’t a blogger and couldn’t get my photos right,so rather gave up on posting my thoughts. It was taking me so long to write that I kept losing my way and would give up in frustration. I got a number of posts to the draft stage and then decided they were no longer relevant and they reside in waiting. However, this blog is still open and I thought – New Year – do that resolve thing. Make a statement.

So, I decided that it might be a good idea to review the photos I took last year and try to pick a couple, that I like, from each month  and post on here so that I have a record. Simple enough eh? Shouldn’t take too long.

January was a bleak month and the garden birds keep me busy filling the feeders so I have plenty of  bird pictures to choose from. Nothing much grows in the garden except for the first bulbs poking their green shoots tentatively up for inspection.

February brought the usual cold and snow showers, my favourite bird the robin and the delightful long tailed tit which usually arrives in a horde like Genghis Khan’s marauders flitting everywhere and rarely stopping in one place long enough to catch with the camera.

March was wet, still cold and brought me the common cold and an upset stomach. (There was no forecast for a cheerful post!) I did manage to get out on a visit to the North York Moors and caught a glimpse of the newly refurbished Flying Scotsman leaving Grosmont station under full steam. The garden usually gets several visits from blue tits always searching nooks and crannies for insect morsels.

April brings the first real signs of Spring and with it delight at the lengthening days. A very significant event was arranged for the last week of this month – my very first cruise and first holiday for 5 or 6 years. A long standing friend persuaded me to take this trip around the British Isles, which included a Channel crossing, and I was very pleased that I went. It is very difficult to pick just two photos from the 6 ports of call but I decided that my favourite stops were Tobermory on the Isle of Mull in the Scottish Inner Hebrides and Monet’s garden at Giverny in France. (I did draft a post on the trip and should consider completing it.)

May is a great month with colour flooding back into the garden and local streets where the trees fill out with blossom and leaf. Boro Garden saw a very unusual visitor and I was very lucky to catch him with the camera through the window which of course had reflections. he was back again the next day but didn’t stay long enough to catch on camera.

June heralds daylight, lots of it. Too early to be very warm but often lots of lovely sunshine and long days. Good light should mean good photos and I thought that these two shots were a good try. A jackdaw looking very ominous before clinging precariously on a fat feeder and a chaffinch in spring colour on his favourite food.

July and summer is in full swing so a visit to the seaside was enjoyed by many. Saltburn-on-Sea has kept it’s Victorian roots including it’s pier and inclined cliff lift, whilst Middlesbrough’s riverside continues to attract development resulting in an interesting blend of structures. The £2.7m structure ‘Temenos’ by Anish Kapoor was completed Spring 2010.The steel structure consists of a pole, a circular ring and an oval ring, all held together by steel wire and  contrasts with our iconic Transporter Bridge completed 100 years earlier.

August continued the summer ambience and brought a multitude of choice with days out and the garden competing for the camera. I picked an attempt at a close-up and a landscape. The Schlumbergera cactus was not actually growing in the garden but had spent all summer outdoors and I thought no post would be complete without a gate! The view is from the North York Moors towards Roseberry Topping.

September also had a a good share of blue skies which draw one inevitably to the sea and at the same time the garden is full. The ever popular ‘pot mum’ brings glorious autumn colour. The landscape with Saltburn beach tractors against the backdrop of Huntcliff was my photo for my  BBC Weatherwatchers report that day and achieved an Editors Pick! I was chuffed, to say the least.

October and the days are shortening again. The lesser spotted woodpecker pops into Boro Garden for his nuts and a penstemon is still flowering strongly.

At the end of October I was invited to Stratford upon Avon for a birthday celebration and as this was a rare event, I could not miss including a couple of extra photos.

Shakespeare’s birthplace is just one of the remarkably old buildings in the town and you may think that the bridge is quite unremarkable, but, i discovered after the event, that I had captured my first flying bird! Progress.

November days are shortening but the weather picture still has to be found and the birds continue to visit Boro Garden.

Good old Saltburn produces another Editor’s pick! It’s not me, they just seem to love pictures that include the sea and the sky.  The bullfinch is a rare visitor to Boro Garden. I might see one a couple of times a year.

December brings the year to an end so just two more photos to pick. Short days and poor light mean a limited choice, but the garden is usually busy at some time during the day.

Blackbirds are regular visitors and spend hours chasing each other while trying to keep a feeding station to them self. Squirrel has been visiting all year, usually for breakfast and then a late snack. He loves the sunflower hearts and as long as he doesn’t destroy the feeders, he can continue. As it is December, it seems fitting to finish with a seasonal bird and also,  I have to include one of my favourites, which is also one of the smallest to visit.

Finally, here is my gallery summarising the year 2016. It has only taken me a week to put this post together and has reminded me why my posts are so infrequent.

I am still not happy with a lot of the photos I take which lack the sharpness I see in others. I tried to follow the advice of my favourite nature photographer from Michigan and all these photos were taken with last years Christmas present to myself, a compact Canon PowerShot SX700 HS. It has full manual control as well as auto but I kept struggling to balance shutter speed with exposure and to get a sharp photo. The camera would keep adjusting the speed or aperture I set in order to get the correct exposure so the subject, usually moving, was blurred. The light in my small garden is poor anyway with some large trees nearby. The compact camera is great for carrying around and performs very well in general, but I couldn’t get good photos of moving birds. The camera has a large 30x optical zoom which brings the subject close enough to fill the frame but this reduces the amount of light available to the small sensor.

So this year I thought I would take the plunge and go for a DSLR. I have stuck with Canon and decided my budget would run to a 700D. It made sense to stick with the kit lens offered, an 18-55mm IS STM lens, because Canon are offering cashback on this but not body only purchases.

It is great, I have started practising and can see the advantages already. The range of controls is so much greater and I can see the difference the larger APS-C sensor makes. The 18-55mm lens at least gives me the chance to get started but I am already looking for an upgrade. I need to get closer! Of course one downside is that there is no slipping this bit of kit in my pocket! and even less when I get an additional lens, which is the other downside, these lenses are expensive, aren’t they? But hey-ho, I’m retired, it’s what I’ve worked for isnt it?

I will make more effort to post more often, after all, I have now set a standard and must see if I really can learn anything and demonstrate some progress.

I put this up for my own record, really, so if anyone has got this far, I thank you very much for your time and visit.

 

Britain in Europe – A Referendum

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As the date for the European referendum in the UK draws ever closer, I get more and more agitated and the need to express my opinion gets stronger. I have been very lazy at posting any thoughts or pictures on my blog and it is only at times like this that I really feel the need.

I have tried, but Twitter and Facebook are just not enough to properly express thoughts that are so important. It is great to watch a programme on television and be able to comment,  albeit briefly, on the social media sites, but one is never given enough web space to properly express one’s feelings. OK, so here we go with Brandybutter’s thoughts on #Brexit.

We need to break free from a European bureaucracy that is going down the tubes. Economic forecasters are just that – fortune tellers and they are only interested in their own economic well-being. Forget the economics; the stock market, the economy and the Pound, will go up and down whether or not we are in the EU. What is more important is to regain our freedom, to be able to decide our own future, without unelected European bureaucrats trying to drag the UK into a United Europe. Make no mistake, that is the ultimate aim. There is no manifesto, no spoken target, but that is the ultimate pinnacle of European Union, a United Europe in which no one country can have any real influence. A haven for the unelected, a wasteful bureaucracy that spends all it’s time on making ever encompassing rules and regulations. This referendum is your only chance to establish our independence.

The UK is one of the oldest, most respected states in the world and should not allow itself to become embroiled in a failing union of European countries. I am old enough to have voted in the last referendum, in 1975, to remain in the EEC. (We were not given the choice to join.)  I did not vote to join a United Europe. At that time just over 67% of voters supported the Labour government’s campaign to stay in the EEC, or Common Market. We were not voting for a European Union. That is what has been forgotten.

Britain joined the European Economic Community in 1973 and hence the EU in the 1990s. But Britain never fully accepted the legitimacy of European control over British institutions in a way that other EU members did. It refused, for example, to join either the Schengen Area, which eliminates internal border controls, or the common currency. In the same way, you should refrain from further integration with Europe by voting Leave.

For a professional, informed opinion, I recommend The Spectator article http://www.spectator.co.uk/2016/06/out-and-into-the-world-why-the-spectator-is-for-leave/ which provides a very succinct view.

In February, the Prime Minister in a formal document, has claimed that he secured a new settlement to give the United Kingdom  a special status within the European Union, as well as setting the EU as a whole on a path of long-term reform. He claims that this settlement makes the EU work much better for the UK but there are still many ways in which it needs to improve. He says that the task of reforming the EU does not end with this agreement. What he does not say is that his agreement, is a proposal and  may not be formally approved in all respects. The agreement states – “The European Council agreed that, should the result of the referendum be a vote that the UK should leave the EU, the new settlement for the UK will cease to exist.” So he has not obtained any binding reform to Europe.  “The UK is stronger, safer and better off in a reformed EU.” The problem is that he has not reformed the EU.

The Prime Minister says Turkey will not join the EU for decades, but he does not have a crystal ball and it may only be 5 years or less before Turkish citizens will have the right to flood the UK. They are not interested in staying in France or Greece, they want the best – the UK. Do not allow them to overcrowd our small country that already has one of the highest population densities in Europe.

Germany is now realising that Angela Merkel set her country on the road to ruin with her invitation for an unlimited number of political refugees to stay in Germany. It was her invitation that sparked the worst influx of mass immigration to affluent Europe since the Second World War. How many lives were lost as a result of her rash words? How many Germans are now regretting the social problems overwhelming some of their cities?

Do not forget, Turkey is only one of many poor countries on the edge of Europe that will willingly sell their economy to Europe in order to take advantage of the wealth that they have not been able to generate on their own. Remember well that Greece took such advantage of it’s inclusion that it very nearly brought down the whole European economy. It was not a poor country before it joined the EU, but it took everything it could, allowed workers to retire early on silly pensions and failed to tax properly and subsequently caused the near breakdown of the European economy. The economic problems of Greece in Europe are still not resolved. So much for stronger in Europe!

Do not listen to all the politicians and business leaders who advocate remaining in Europe. They all have only one aim in life – to make as much money as possible as quickly as possible from you and me. They do not have any interest in the freedom of the individual or the freedom of nation states. They are money orientated, already rich and interested only in making more money. Listen to the chancellor’s rhetoric, the Prime Minister’s urging, they want only to make more money. Never forget, in every country around the world, politicians are rich. The USA is proud to announce that anyone can become President, but the truth is that there has never been a poor President.

My overwhelming thoughts concern our need to retain our independence and not to drown in the unelected morass of greed and waste that engulfs the gravy train of Brussels bureaucracy. The Prime Minister has exhorted us to remain in Europe on the basis that we are stronger in, that this “will be a once-in-a-generation moment to shape the future of our country. Whatever the British people decide, I will make it work to the best of my abilities.”  Who is he kidding?  He has not reformed Europe and Europe will not allow Britain to shape the future. He will not remain Prime Minister if Britain votes to leave. No wonder he wants us to remain!

Your chance to vote is this week. There is no more time. The future of Britain is in the hands of the British electorate for once and the politicians and the business leaders will have to wait on British common sense. The economy, your affluence and the value of the pound will continue to rise and fall, irrespective of whether we remain in or leave Europe.

Remember, you will not get the chance to reclaim Britain’s independence ever again. Once you relinquish our sovereignty, it will be gone forever. You will have voted for the European Superstate. No one mentions it but rest assured that is the ultimate dream of  the unelected Brussels bureaucrats. The bigger their empire, the bigger their salaries. The Prime Minister has proved that the UK cannot, in substance, reform Europe.

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I will be voting Leave the European Union and I hope the majority will also seek a better future for the UK free from interference from Europe.

Feeling guilty

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Master Robin

My stats tell me that it is 9 months since I last posted and I feel guilty that I have links to this blog on other sites and if anyone looks, there is no apparent action. Time just seems to pass so quickly. There is plenty of spare time in the day but there always seems to be something else to do, or I am just plain lazy more like!

So, what I would like to do now, is to post a few photos that show Boro Garden as I see it at the moment, but how I am going to pick from the hundreds I have taken is another reason why I should post more often.

One of the highlights recently was spotting first one bullfinch in the garden :-

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Then a few days later she re-appeared with a mate –

I don’t see these very often and am hoping for a repeat visit.

The feeders have been busy all winter but since spring? (supposedly) started, the birds seem to have become much more territorial and I see a constant flurry of wings as each species chases off anything smaller. The blackbirds are the funniest constantly playing tag through and over the flower beds up onto the fence and back through the trees. I need a video of that. The female looks so placid –

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I get a decent variety of birds as some go and others re-appear –

Coal tit, long tailed tit (a favourite) goldfinch and nuthatch.

Outside the garden recently, on a walk up to NT Ormesby Hall I spotted a well camouflaged tree creeper –

Back in the garden this slow Spring, which has been wet and cold has meant that some of the daffodils that I planted in the autumn are still flowering –

The temperature has hardly risen above 10 C since January. The constant showers have battered these primroses and primulas which were recently purchased from a garden centre, and looked very pretty when planted –

The basket of winter pansies seems less bothered by the rain and has also developed over the last week or so –

Ok, that’s enough for now, although the blackbird has been learning some new tricks –

Blackbird new tricks

That pine cone is a good two feet off the ground and she gets a mouthful of suet each time. I hope this shows how tiny the long tailed tits are –

Long tailed tit

Before closing, I have to add that a pair of blue tits have built a nest in the camera box and the female is sleeping there each night. We await further developments with anticipation. You can always check in on the birds  at Boro Garden which broadcasts most days.

Thanks for looking in, I have missed you all and hope you have enjoyed this little catch-up.

North Gare and Teesmouth National Nature Reserve

North Gare and Teesmouth National Nature Reserve

It seems a long time since I last added to my blog so I am pleased to have finally finished this account of a recent visit to a little area of peace and calm amid the industrial background on my doorstep.

The entrance to the track across the marshland to the North Gare is marked by two stone columns, but as I didn’t want to get run over by traffic on the main road here is just one of them.

Pillar marking the entrance to the North Gare

Pillar marking the entrance to the North Gare

Friday was one of those rare things in the North East, a warm summer’s day during which you could walk about unemcumbered with coat and sweaters. I used the opportunity to pay a visit to a bit of an oasis that I had passed by on the road several times in the past, but never stopped and explored before. It is north of the River Tees, close to a huge petro-chemicals complex and I infrequently visit that side of the river because it is largely a very ugly landscape and it entails  passing right through the busy urban jungle to get there. I live to the south of the river and it is much easier to drive straight out into the North York moors, the Cleveland Hills or the Redcar – Saltburn coast.

I have visited the South Gare before (Redcar side), but never the North Gare. To explain, the River Tees flows out into the North Sea between Hartlepool and Redcar and these two piers mark and define the channel entrance. They were developed from the middle of the 19th century when the discovery of iron ore in the Cleveland hills in the 1850s resulted in the building of many blast furnaces on the banks of the Tees, and the development of the river as an industrial complex.

Redcar steel works across the river

Redcar steel works across the river

The South Gare breakwater was commenced in 1863 and the North Gare breakwater was commenced on 1891 using waste from the blast furnaces (mostly slag) as the foundation to build and strengthen the banks of the river, narrowing and defining the channel which caused scouring of the bed of the river and an increase in the depth of water. This enabled larger and larger vessels to use and service the area and enabled the considerable development of the industries we see on the banks of the river today which are largely built on reclaimed land.

Seal Sands

Seal Sands petrochemical complex

So, we have ended up with one of the largest petro chemical complexes in Europe and one remaining blast furnace spread around both banks of the River Tees with pockets of low lying marshes and mudflats interspersed. These undeveloped areas have become a haven for wildlife, especially birds and Seal Sands once again supports the only regular breeding colony of common seals on the north east coast of England. The area I visited is part of the Teesmouth National Nature Reserve an area of sand dunes, meadows and marsh.

Teesmouth National Nature Reserve

Teesmouth National Nature Reserve

Leaving the carpark on foot, the dominant sight rising above the verdant grasses is the Hartlepool nuclear power station. It is the meadows in the foreground that are of special interest.

Hartlepool NPS

Hartlepool Nuclear Power Station

Once you cross the golf course (with a warning to beware of low flying objects) a short walk brings you to a totally different view.

Looking across the River Tees

Looking North across the River Tees estuary

From here the view above is right across the South Gare, across Redcar to Huntcliff in the distance. The sand dunes almost glisten in the sun and on a day like this, almost have the effect of transporting one to distant climes, with not a person in sight!

The dunes sweep out to the pier following the curve of the bay. I was so lucky with the weather.

Blue Lagoon

Blue Lagoon

After a delightful walk to the sound of waves lapping on the golden sand, you arrive at the end of the world, well as far as you can go….out there is the North Sea.

North Gare pier looking to South Gare pier

North Gare pier looking across Teesmouth to South Gare pier and the offshore windfarm.

The fascinating thing about this place is that once you cross back through the dunes and descend to the meadow on the land side, you emerge into another world and at this point, I realise that I have only closeup shots. I should have taken a general overview. According to the information boards, the stars to look out for are orchids and moths. I was very lucky to find both. These moths fly in the daytime.

I had some difficulty getting the camera to focus on some of the plants, they would not stay still in the constant sea breeze, so hope these shots are ok. So many that I took were too blurry in closeup to use so I enjoyed a second visit a week later to top up.

Purple is the colour

But I did come across this splash of yellow, which looks like a snapdragon, amid the grasses.

Snapdragon?

Snapdragon?

I really enjoyed my visits to this oasis of calm and hope my post gives some idea of the great contrasts to be found in this area of Northern England. I foresee a visit to the South Gare one day…

I hope you enjoyed your visit and thanks for stopping by.

Ripley Castle

Ripley Castle

There are two Bank Holidays in May and the second will be upon us before I can sneeze. I had better get on and report on my day out at the beginning of the month, May Day Holiday. I found somewhere that I had not visited before and the housemate and I set out to find Ripley Castle, near Harrogate, North Yorkshire.

Ripley Castle from the Deer Park

Ripley Castle from the Deer Park

Ripley Castle is a Grade I listed 14th-century country house in Ripley, North Yorkshire, England, some 5 km north of Harrogate. The house is built of coursed squared gritstone and ashlar with grey slate and stone slate roofs. Wikipedia
So, more of a fortified gentleman’s residence than a castle but from the front it looks quite impressive

According to the leaflets supplied on entry, the same family have been living in the castle for over 700 years, the Ingilby family. Apparantly surviving plagues, civil wars, religious persecution, involvement in the Guy Fawkes Gunpowder Plot, two World Wars and numerous recessions. Obviously survivors!

I steer away from tours of the interior of these old houses, preferring to roam the grounds, so I apologise for presenting no details of the furnishings and fittings. The castle is set in extensive grounds encompassing Ripley Lake and Deer Park which is where this path leads to.

Looking back to the castle

Looking back to the castle

For a Bank Holiday, the weather was remarkably kind with some blue skies and little wind. Walking round the lake through the Deer Park, we failed to see any deer, which were presumably hiding from the Bank Holiday crowds over the brow of a hill. The view below, back to the castle, was taken from the far end of the lake.

Ripley Castle from Deer Park

Ripley Castle from Deer Park

Crossing the bridge over the upper weir lead us into the Pleasure Grounds, (their words) which are extensive woodlands interlaced with various paths and on towards the walled garden and back to the castle.  Quickly bypassing the children’s adventure park, we admired the many specimen trees, some live and some dead!

I seem not to have acquired many photos of these specimens, I think,  largely because when you are walking among them, you cannot get any perspective on them. So we carried on and arrived at the walled garden, where we came across this swathe of tulips, which unfortunately had just about passed their best, but still had all their colour.

A riot of tulips

A riot of tulips

The centre of this part of the garden was taken up with a rather nice stretch of lawn which may appeal to a certain resident of the Borders 😉

Striped lawn with statuary

Striped lawn with statuary

There was a lot to look at in the walled garden and here is just a selection of features that caught my eye.

Rhubarb anyone?

Rhubarb anyone?

And some very attractive bark on a eucalyptus tree.

To conclude a very interesting visit, a non flying bird for residents of Michigan 😉

A mallard on the lawn

A mallard on the lawn

Thanks for looking in.

A walk in the woods

I just liked the shape of this cute conifer

I just liked the shape of this cute conifer

I think it is true to say that I haven’t got the hang of making regular posts, but when the urge strikes, then I have to respond. So please forgive me for the long break as I get this recent expedition onto ‘paper’

Spring may well be well on the way, but the current trend, around here anyway, for decidedly cool temperatures, does not make one feel springlike. From inside, it looks so inviting to see the azure sky with the sun shining brightly, that one can’t wait to get out and enjoy the day. However, the cold wind that greets you as you emerge from the shelter of suburban living makes you realize that spring is a fickle mistress who can reward and punish at the same time. It’s the beginning of May and ice has formed a hard skin over the bird bath and tender blossom reels from the overnight onslaught.

Apple blossom in May

Apple blossom in May

Ah but the sun is shining; I must get out and about and make the effort to record some sights. The wood at the bottom of Clay Bank (a pass into the plateau of the Cleveland Hills) looked inviting. The best thing about walking through a wood at this time of year is the colours. The greens of Spring are a delight to behold, but trying to capture that essence is not so easy?

Forest track

Forest track

This is the track leading into the wood which is an area of forested land from which the conifers were harvested some years ago. These trees are mainly silver birch with an assortment of other deciduous trees, which have grown recently or were left standing from the felling operations.

Spring green

Spring green

Hence the larger trees standing above the general height.

Mixed woodland

Mixed woodland

The track was climbing slowly higher and soon gave a fine view across to Roseberry Topping, our local landmark hill.

Roseberry Topping above the wood

Roseberry Topping above the wood

Next there was a line of sight down to one of the farms at the foot of the Cleveland Hills which almost surround this woodland.

Farm at the foot of the Cleveland Hills

Farm at the foot of the Cleveland Hills

The track wound around the contours of the land, so was fairly level, if wet in places. All around the green theme was echoing.

A short distance away from the forestry track was a marshy area which contained a patch of bulrushes which shone out like beacons among the surrounding greenery. Care was needed here as I found my foot sinking into the hidden mire, the dried reeds were very deceptive!

There was no circular route round, so I had to retrace my footsteps back to the start. It was in this area that I came across this fine patch of primroses looking upto the sun.

Primroses

Primroses

Ok, this short post has been three days in the making, so onwards and upwards as they say, publish and be damned.

We have more to come, so thank you for all who had a look and hope to be back soon.