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
Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Sunday dawned dull with blustery showers even though the weathermen said it would be fine but after the strong winds and wintery snow and hailstone showers of previous days it seemed positively balmy!
We decided to go inland this week and combine the trip with DH's work as he'd a client to see quite a long way from home.
We visited the client first then stopped off in what is known as 'The prettiest village in the East Riding' for a walk around.
Bishop Burton was once an Estate village owned by the wealthy Gee family who were Lords of the Manor and also had property in Liverpool and Jamaica.
Sir William Gee was secretary to King James the first of England.
The estate was sold in 1783 to the equally wealthy Watt family and stayed in their possesion until 1931 when it was sold off.
The Manor house and grounds became the Bishop Burton Agricultural College which is still a well respected and succesful establishment.
This information and more is all set out beautifully on a plaque set into a wall near the mere.
The village has retained it's 'olde worlde' character and even though there have been conversions most houses have kept to the whitewashed and black porched look. Combined with the brick built Georgian farmhouses and their outbuildings it's your quintessential English village, in some cases complete with roses round the door!
It was raining by the time we'd parked up, heavy blustery showers which eased off and then came at you again but we still walked anyway.
The centre of the village was quite sheltered and, bundled up against the elements, we soon became too warm so inbetween squalls we disrobed, stripping off our hoods and gloves we carried our coats.
It was so sheltered that the ground beneath the drystone wall set around All Saints Churchyard was already studded with shoots of what looked like daffodils and we haven't even hit winter yet!
The church stands squarely on the top of a hill, the wind buffeted the willow trees which surround it and the clock's golden numerals on the squat tower glistened in the rain. The old stonework took on many different colour hues as the wet permeated it.
I'd have loved to have looked around inside but there was a service in progress so we just wandered around the old churchyard reading the epitaphs and then sheltered under the pretty wood and tile lychgate to don our coats as it began to rain again.
The pretty little cottages in the lane took on a damp look as the rain lashed against them, their usually bright whitewashed walls would have positively sparkled if the sun had been out, the roses still flowering around their doors hung their heads heavily as they glistered with raindrops, but it wasn't to be so we continued on our way in the now drizzly dull weather.
Cottages with windows set in or right up to the roof usually had thatched roofs originally.
There's a beautiful Weslyan Hall at the end of the lane.
John Wesley the Methodist journeyman preacher came and spread his ministry from the village green three times on his various trips around the country. He must have made a big impact. He often stood on the steps of the village crosses to preach so maybe he used the mounting block here!
The old village pump is still there, set into the wooden railings that encompass the mere and we gazed across past the war memorial to the beautiful black and white timbered 'Altisidora' public house.
It's named for a famous racehorse, the winner of a St. Leger race in the 1800's and bred by Richard Watt, a nephew of the Lord of the Monor. The family owned lots of racehorses but this is the most famous.
The pub has lots of memorabilia with paintings of horses plus whips, stirrups and jockey's caps and colours adorning the walls.
It also does a delicious Sunday lunch which we later partook of and pretty delicious it was too. The warmth was very welcome also.
The mere is the central focus of the village with it's memorial to the wars standing on an island in it's centre.
A large flock of ducks and geese came swimming across, quickly exiting the water to following us up the lane in search of food. They turned back when they realised we hadn't any.
There's another smaller pond in the village too but there the ducks seemed more sedate...or full...and stayed on the water as we passed.
I love Pond Farm with the water right up to the path only a couple of feet from the front door...I could just imagine a few too many drinks or a slippery frost and you could be in for an unexpected swim...lol...
Just across the path is the village green, once the heart of village life.
It's quite a large triangular space with a huge spreading chestnut tree at it's centre. It boasts an old stone mounting block and wooden seats so you can sit and take in the tranquillity...unfortunately we couldn't take advantage of them in the wet conditions.
The chilly weather of last week has finally urged the trees to stop producing chlorophyll and as the green is withheld the oranges, yellows and reds of their foliage is now beginning to show.
The grass was covered with a golden carpet of shed leaves which squelched rather than crunched beneath our feet. I'd wanted to do the childlike thing and kick through them but sadly they were just too wet and soggy!
Maybe a visit in more clement weather is called for but I hope you enjoy this little foray into a quintessential English village.
Quintessential English cottages complete with roses!
All Saints Chuch circa 1241
DH under the lychgate
A pretty cottage
Pond Farm, one too many and splash!!
The old village pump
The village green with it's chestnut tree
The Weslyan Hall
Cottages on the green
And the mounting block.
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