Friday, 14 July 2017


Taking granddaughter home and returning back within a day is quite a long round trip. We took a picnic lunch to share on arrival, and then walked into the local town where all three of us had a delicious ice cream at an Italian galateria - we then bid our fond farewells.
To break the journey home we visited Ascott House and gardens in Buckinghamshire - a former c16th hunting lodge

Ascott was donated the the National Trust in 1949 by Anthony de Rothschild, a member of the same family who donated Waddesden - a French Renaissance style chateau. The property is filled with several outstanding collections including Oriental porcelain, c17th Dutch Master paintings and works by Gainsborough, Reynolds and Stubbs. The house also has some rare and exquisite items of c18th English and French furniture. Unfortunately photography is not permitted within the property as it is still lived in during the winter months by members of the Rothschild family.
The back of Ascott
Time was of the essence, we managed only a quick wander around the immediate garden before resuming our journey home
The south lawn takes in views across the landscape beyond

The topiary above is a sundial, but on that day the sun remained hidden in cloud
The sunken garden
Herbaceous Walk
We barely scratch the surface of the many different garden areas, but will call again.

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Bath - UNESCO World Heritage City

We have just had our third born granddaughter staying for a few days. School days are firmly behind her as she anticipates her next journey which takes her to Edinburgh University in the Autumn.
One of the places we took her to was the city of Bath, which makes an interesting juxtaposition with our recent visit to Lecce in Italy. Both cities were built of honey coloured limestone - Bath's architecture being a glorious Georgian masterpiece as opposed to Lecce's bountiful feast of Baroque.
The Circus was designed in 1754 by architect John Wood shortly before he died, but his work continued and was carried on by his son, John Wood jnr.
As the name implies the buildings form a perfect circle with a grassy central island filled with large 300 year old trees
13 years later John Wood jnr designed The impressive Royal Crescent which enjoys an open aspect to the front taking in far reaching views across the city
Leaving the Royal Crescent behind there are many other impressive streets still to explore  

It pays to look carefully at the original ironwork - above can be seen a boot scrapper, and a torch extinquisher. 
There was no street lighting in Georgian Britain, but the rich would have their dark nights lit by flaming torches. These were carried by a 'link boy' running besides them as they were conveyed home in a sedan chair following a night out at the opera or theatre

Cross over Pulteney Bridge, built in 1774 - designed by Neoclassic/Palladian Architect, Robert Adams. 
There you can catch a boat or walk along the Avon's riverbank

  On the bridge you may enjoy sampling a delicious homemade cake in the tiny river view cafe, or visiting some of the little shops filled with interesting curios.
Jane Austen knew Bath as a thriving spa resort which in her day was extremely popular with fashionable society. Afternoon high tea would be taken in the elegant Pump Room with its glass chandeliers, perhaps followed by a musical soiree in the evening. There they would also imbibe a glass of spa water, which contains 43 different minerals, supposedly thought of as a cure-all for many ailments.
Take an extensive tour of the Roman Baths - one of the most historic sites from antiquity in northern Europe - the young people in this photo are not using mobile phones but they are listening to the included audioguides about the Romans, their life and their history.
Finally end your visit to the Roman baths with a glass of health giving Spa Water, which is free, and tastes unbelievable.

 Bath Abbey - the last of the great cathedrals built during the medieval period
The West Front is a 'tour de force' of carved stonework showing Jacob's Dream with a statue of an omnipresent God in a central position watching overall

The Abbey is dedicated to St. Peter and St. Paul - each saint oversees the top of a ladder 
Worldwide there are countless artworks depicting Jacob's Dream - paintings, frescoes, prints, stained glass windows, but this is by far the largest    
"Jacob had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, its top reaching to heaven, with the angels of God ascending and descending on it".             

To see and admire this impressive stone sculpture carved over 500 years ago, I feel immense gratitude to those of our ancestors who left behind so many fine legacies for us all to appreciate and enjoy today.

Saturday, 1 July 2017

End of June 2017 in the Garden

 The tall flower spikes of the New Zealand Phormium tenax reach high into the sky

Closely followed by the Lilium regale also growing forever upwards
  Phygelius raspberry swirl
The refreshing scent of Lavandula hidcote drifts through the air
This Loquat Tree is a curiosity. When we travelled in the Galician region of Spain several years ago, there was a bowl of loquats on the breakfast table. Inside they had big brown seeds which I saved and carried back home with this result. I wonder if they will ever bear fruit?
 Echinops - Globe thistle will soon be flowering

Clematis Hagley hybrid 

Some of the figs are almost ready but these have still to fatten
I am happy that Californian poppies scatter themselves around - if necessary they are easily removed
Lilium martagon

There are two climbing Hydrangeas growing up our walls - this one is the regular Hydrangea petiolaris
but this one is a rare variety called Hydrangea seemannii. Native to the cloud forests of Mexico and named after the discoverer, Berthold Carl Seeman, a German botanist 1825-1871.
Centaurea montana
Leycesteria formosa - Himalayan honeysuckle
Australian Callistemon citrinus - bottlebrush. There was once a time when this plant would not have survived out of doors in my garden, but with our warmer climate this one has flourished outside for the past 20 years.