Tuesday, December 18, 2012
The weather over the last couple of weeks reminds me of that old poem we said as children, you know the one...
Whether the weather be fine
Or whether the weather be not,
Whether the weather be cold
Or whether the weather be hot,
We'll weather the weather
Whatever the weather
Whether we like it or not.
Sums it up in a nutshell really, we've had just about the gamut of all the weather can muster this last couple of weeks though the rain has featured all year long.
Mostly it's been raining, days of it for almost the whole of this year.
The ground is waterlogged, people are flooded out and still it rains...we need Noah and his ark!
We've also had some really hard frosts.
We've woken to Jack Frost's wonderful handiwork, still lifes of frosty fern pictures which we don't usually see because of the central heating, but he managed it last week.
And snow, pristine white, covering the ground and making all the gardeners happy...everyone's garden looks the same under snow whether you've weeded or not!
Then of course the fog, so thick you couldn't see the bottom of the garden, my ash trees loomed eerily and the birds flew off and disappeared into nothingness. The silence was paplable!
We've had wind too, sometimes gale force, buffeting the garden and knocking things down...I'm now minus a greenhouse door and DH has lost a panel in a fence!
And through it all, the ubiquitous rain...sometime torrential, sometimes showery but always around.
This morning was showers, blustery and windy, like needles on your face.
But inbetween we had a beautiful rainbow.
It arched across the garden like a multi coloured ribbon, highlighting the bare cherry tree branches with a golden glow.
It's raining again now!
Here are a few pictures for you:
The swollen river Derwent, water high above it's banks, looks beautiful as the sun glints across it
The caravans in the park narrowly missed being flooded after owners raised them on stilts to combat the water
The cornmill stream overflowed it's banks
Ducks swimming in the park where we usually walk
The road through the village was under two feet of water, now slowly going down!
Where's the garden gone?
You need a boat to get out...
Snow through the conservatory windows
I was glad to be inside!
Jack Frost's been busy creating his masterpieces
Another Jack Frost design
My eerie looking ash trees
The beautiful rainbow
Monday, December 03, 2012
Last Monday afternoon my friend Ruth and I visited a stately home called Burton Constable Hall.
It's been the home of the Constable family since the early sixteenth century and is still a family home today.
It was open to the public to show off their Christmas decorations.
We try to go to a different stately home each year if we can, though we've done most of them more than once at some time or other and I have been to the this hall before, but Burton Constable hadn't ever opened for Christmas so we were looking forward to it.
We weren't disappointed.
Ruth's husband's family lived on the estate as tenant farmers for many years, his father farmed it and he took over after his father's death.
He farmed it along with another farm here in my home village and only gave up the estate farm last year after his mother died so Ruth is a mine of information about the estate and as I love history she's a perfect companion for info which isn't public knowledge as you walk around the hall and grounds...she imparts extra little titbits to whet the imagination...I love it!
We awoke last friday to torrential rain and on Monday morning, four days later, it was still raining.
Lots of places are flooded and where the hall stands is pretty low lying but after consulting the farming weather forecast for the area we decided to set off as it looked set to fair up for a while at least.
It was quite spooky really as I said airily 'It'll be dry by one o'clock.' at which Ruth laughed and said 'So it'll be fine by the time we got there...yeah, as if!!' and Hey Presto! we got out of the car in the hall's carpark at two minutes past one and by the time we'd shut the doors the rain had stopped...lol...Ruth said 'You should be a weather forecaster!'.
Before we managed the carpark we had to turn back at one point as the road was flooded and there were signs telling us to avoid various village routes, we were lucky Ruth knew her way about the area but it still added around half an hour to our journey.
It was quite odd at times driving down a country lane with the fields on both sides filled with water and the winscreen being lashed by yet more of it!.
You enter the estate at the back where the old stables block has been converted into washrooms, carpark and a tearoom.
The desk where you get you entry ticket is in the tearoom and the minute we walked in my spectacles fogged up...lol...the warmth and smell was lovely and the atmosphere positively crackled with a coach load of chattering WI women all taking tea and eating warm mince pies, it almost got to us but we decided to see the hall before partaking of refreshment.
As we walked through the garden to the front entrance a lot of the surrounding fields and parkland were flooded, they sparkled in the weak sunshine that shone intermittently now the rain had eased.
Alpacas and sheep munched away contentedly at the grass, in an unflooded field, which is still lush after the wet weather we've had.
Entering the hall through the grand front door we found ourselves in the Great Hall where a tableau of life sized singers sang carols around a grand piano in the shadow of a huge Christmas tree.
We followed the signs through the sumptious downstairs rooms all subtley decorated in a simple way which complimented the old house and it's decor.
Each room, and there were thirty one open to the public, was beautiful with soft lighting and pretty treasures.
Some had a theme and suitable music was playing softly in the background.
The Long Gallery was a pantomime theme on Aladdin.
There was Wishee Washee's laundry with Widow Twanky washing the clothes and a couple of clothes horses with them hanging out to dry, Aladdin's palace and a wonderful gold and jewel encrusted lamp.
The French Corridor and bedrooms had a ballet theme of the Nutcracker, the soft music sounded lovely as it echoed along the old corridors and the rooms were decorated with tutus and toy soldiers.
The State Rooms were done out as a nursery with childrens toys and games, stockings hung from the beautiful ornate fireplace and two trees decorated with homemade paper chains and gingerbread men filled the corners of the room.
The beautiful family Chapel was simply decorated with a manger scene and in the Sacristy a small choir of life sized children sang 'Away in a manger', they were cleverly made from paper and card and looked very realistic.
Santa's workshop was the room I liked best, they'd painted over one of the windows so it looked like a snow scene outside, it was set in a small room which had bits broken from the walls and ceiling so the old plaster and wattle showed through and an old brick uneven floor.
It had been a room used for storage so it looked suitably old and broken down.
I'm not sure how they did it but it was very chilly and cold with draughts of air blowing around it and realistic sounds of the wind moaning...it was very effective!
Santa was snoozing by the fire whilst his dog lay watching him, there was a 'good' children list by his side as if he'd been reading it and fallen asleep and the 'naughty' children list was there too waiting to be read, half finished wooden toys littered the floor and together with the sound effects, the chill wind and the painted window it felt as if you were actually in the North pole!
We visited the tearoom of course, it was warm and muggy after the walk back through the soggy gardens.
We had warming mugs of hot chocolate and a very decadent piece of, naughty but very very nice, homemade chocolate cake...Oooo, yum yum yum!!!
When my eldest son was small and we'd been anywhere if you asked him which bit he liked the best, he invariably said 'The cafe'...lol...in this case I whole heartedly agree with him!
It was a wonderful afternoon, we got back in the car to head home and five mniutes in the weather decided to play dirty again, it poured down!
Someone was watching over us on our visit, we had fine weather, beautiful surroundings, good food and lots of lovely photographs, mental images and memories to take home.
I took a load of photos which are on my Flickr page but here are just a few to whet your appetite:
The Staircase Hall
Corner of the French Landing with the ballet theme
In the Dining room the table is set for Christmas dinner, white napery and gold and green tableware
A partridge in a pear tree
Family chapel with nativity
Life sized children made from card and paper
Snow scene complete with snowman
Painted snow scene window
The 'naughty' list
Burton Constable Hall
Tuesday, November 13, 2012
Sunday was what we call bracing here in Yorkshire.
A cold and strong north wind sent leaves skittering from their precarious grip on the branches of the trees and grey white clouds scudding across the overcast sky whilst underfoot Jack Frost had stealthily clothed the ground in sparkling white as he visited during the night while the world slept.
The grass was blisteringly white, glinting with a myriad of miniature diamonds, crisp and crunchy as we walked but eventually the wintery lemon coloured sun broke through the drifting clouds and cast it's wavering glow over the land...like magic, the grass became wet and green again.
There isn't a lot of colour in the autumn this year so I was pleased to see the odd red haw now and again. The trees have done badly in the wet weather and there aren't a lot of berries on them. The poor field fares are in for a shock after their long flight in from Russia for their over winter stay.
There was one surprise amongst the damp grass, a hogweed still in flower. It's delicate florets are usually full of insects in the summer but this one was making a valiant attempt in the depths of autumn.
All the plants seem confused this year!
We were in one of our favourite spots.
Thixendale, the old saxon name means sixteen dales.
It's where sixteen valleys converge.
You meander down one, up another...all different, all with magnificent views.
We were in Fairy dale, DH's favourite as it's the valley the buzzards seem to frequent the most.
The whole of Thixendale is their habitat but the wind currents above the disused chalk quarry in Fairydale seem to be their favourite place for a spot of hanging on the wind.
It's also a good place to view merlins as they use the valley sides to practice uplifts on the wind. They're only the size of a backbird and very quick so it's hard to spot them anywhere else.
DH was in his glory as a pair of buzzards were circling high in the air currents. He was like a statue as he trained his binoculars on them and oblivious to the wind and cold watched as they twirled and soared on the warm currents of air mewing to each other sounding for all the world like flying kittens.
I can never get any decent pictures of them as even with binoculars they are sometimes just tiny specks in a vast sky and they move about so much I can't even find them in the camera viewer but this time I did...it's not very good and it was getting dark too so I was remarkably pleased with myself at the time...lol...it helped it came low into the valley checking out the pigeon roosts because I'm just no good at night shots!
It's dark by about four thirty now the clocks have gone back and the setting sun gave us a panoramic view of marvellous variations on colours.
As we stood on the top of the ridge we could see in all directions.
If you looked south the sky was dark and broodingly grey like the buzzard shot.
But look east and it was a magnificent cerulean blue shaded with darker patches and streaks.
The row of beech trees on the top of the dale stood darkly in it's glory.
Look north and the sky was a mixture of blue and black, like a bruise on the sky which shaded gently into golden hues.
My favourite tree, old and gnarled, stood sentinal against the skyline.
But west, where the sun was setting, was like a velvety curtain of molten gold spread across the horizon by Mother Nature's palette knife, a wondrous backdrop to the trees and plants.
A few pictures for you...enjoy!!
Trees on the horizon
The elusive buzzard
Silhouette of my favourite tree
Tuesday, November 06, 2012
Well we didn't get far this Sunday, my arthritic knee's playing me up and I could hardly hobble let alone walk so I contented my self with a few pictures around the garden.
Saturday was quite frosty but Sunday was even better, everywhere resembled a beautiful Christmas card that had been frosted with glitter.
It was so cold, minus three for a while before the sun finally managed to break through for a short period, ideal for a walk really if I'd been up to it but I wasn't so...DH raked leaves and I hipple-hirched around the borders taking a few snaps.
There's not a lot of colour left for November but my 'Buff Beauty' climbing rose on the garden arch still had a few flowers left until the frost came, they're now looking very dejected...brown and soggy looking.
The buds of the magnolia 'stellata' have already appeared safe inside their furry overcoats but it's earlier than it should be so I'm not sure if it'll last the winter out.
The many coloured berries of the St.John's Wort look as if they've been dipped in icing sugar and the 'Spectabile' Ice Plant certainly lives up to it's name as each tiny flower is covered in white crystals.
The lupins were cut down a while ago but one intrepid plant had put out a last leaf, the centre radiates out like wheel spokes and was coated with ice, it looked so pretty whilst the bright orange 'Physalis' or chinese lanterns were frosted over too.
We did venture out for a ride after dinner but by then it had turned dull and gray so I didn't get many pictures. Most of them were taken through the car window or else were very near the roadside so I didn't have to hobble far.
I loved the beautiful purple leaves of a bottery bush I spied as we drove past a little bridge. I asked DH to back up so I could take a picture.
The bottery term is a Yorkshire dialect corruption of Butric tree or Elder but we've always called it that and it wasn't until I was speaking to a friend from away that I realised she didn't know it by the same name as it's referred to as the Elderberry bush when away from Yorkshire.
There were sheep grazing on the banks of the river and the sun was just beginning to go down making a golden and blue pattern to the evening sky. It was the best part of the whole afternoon.
The bottery bush stood out silhouetted against the beautiful sky as did the delicate leaves of a silver birch tree. The pictures were taken low down as I couldn't climb up to the path beside the bridge so they're a bit of different shot to what I'd usually take.
I looked up into the almost bare branches of a sycamore tree, the delicate tracery of twigs and branches looked beautiful with a few hardy leaves keeping their grip on life.
Then looking down to the base of the trunk was a beautiful 'turkey tail' bracket fungus all ripples and tonal shades of brown and grey.
It was dark by half past four, the beautiful sunset turned to dark skies and rain began pouring down, lashing at the car windows as we wended our way back home where we settled down in front of the telly enjoying the warmth from a glowing fire in the hearth and ate gorgeously melty toasted cheese all washed down with a mug of hot chocolate...yummy!
Frosted 'Buff Beauty' rose
Ice plant 'spectabile'
Bottery bush leaves
Bottery bush against the setting sun
Sheep on the bank sides
Silver birch against the setting sun
Looking up into an almost bare sycamore canopy
And down onto a 'turkey tail' fungus
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