Wednesday 29 March 2017

Anglesey Abbey

Our flights via Stansted to Cyprus offered up an opportunity to visit Anglesey Abbey near Cambridge on our return
The medieval priory was not yet open for the season, however, it was the spring gardens we were drawn to see
The abbey was remodelled into a 20th century home by Lord Fairhaven, son of a wealthy American oil family, he bought it unseen at an auction when he was 30 years old. He then spent much of his time and fortune creating the perfect place in which to entertain, collect fine antiques and follow country pursuits.  

It is over 20 years ago that we first saw the drifts of newly planted dogwood shrubs, birch and willow trees, and we were keen to see just how they had developed. Grown for their colourful barks, sculptural forms and shapes, together with interesting underplanting, they looked glorious in the spring sunshine

Pretty tassels on the Acer negundo  
Fritillaria raddeana

Anemone blanda together with Scilla siberica

Rubus thibetanus 'silver fern'

Himalyan Silver Birch

Sadly, all too soon it became necessary for us to abandon visiting the more formal part of the garden

Prunus serrula - Tibetan Cherry Tree
having been up since 3.00am to catch our plane back home we were tired,
and still had the drive home ahead of us

Tuesday 28 March 2017

The Building Quiz

The building first shown on the previous post is opposite a mosque - it is where Muslim men carry out 'Wudu' (ablution). There is a man in the photo above practicing Wudu. The process is complicated but if you are interested in knowing how it is performed then you can follow this link.
Several blogging friends were heading in the right direction but it was Lorrie who got it spot on - very well done Lorrie and thank you to everyone else for trying.

Monday 27 March 2017


an eastern Mediterranean island of two nations - in the south live Greek Cypriots, in the north live Turkish Cypriots. Passport controls operate at what are known as 'the green line' crossing points from one side of the island to the other. We stayed in the Turkish northern half, a less visited area revealing it's very long history at each and every turn.
This is a snapshot of places seen and visited, wildflowers enjoyed, and a guessing game for all of those who love a quiz
Bellapais Monastery
It was in northern Cyprus, in the hills above Kyrenia in the village of Bellapais that Lawrence Durrel wrote his autobiographical book "Bitter Lemons".
Deserted beaches fringed with wild Asphodelus fistulosus
Sheep safely graze - can you imagine the solitary life of a Cypriot shepherd who spends everyday of the year wandering the countryside with his flock of sheep? In Cyprus as in many other eastern Mediterranean and Asian countries, there are no boundaries enclosing the land. Sheep roam freely along the marginal areas and it is the shepherds job to protect them from harm.
On one distant peninsular live herds of feral donkeys, but they seem to have a canny way of detecting apples or oranges hidden away in pockets! Here several of the them turned up at an isolated Monastery we were visiting but luckily they received some treats

The architecture reveals a history of occupation stretching back over thousands of years

In the beginning Stone Age man arrived in Cyprus crossing the seas on wooden rafts from Asia Minor. They co-existed with dwarf animal species such as very small elephants and pygmy hippos.

Cyprus has been occupied or lived in by Mycenaeans, Phoenicians, Egyptians, Persians, Romans, Byzantines, Richard the Lion Heart, Knights Templar's, Normans, Venetians, Ottomans, and the British

Anenome coronaria
Hyoscyamus aureus
Asphodelus fistulosus

Family Convolvulaceae
Tassel Hyacinth - Leopoldia comosa - apparently the bulbs were considered a delicacy by both the Romans and the Greeks. Today on Crete, and also in Puglia, Italy, the bulbs are still eaten. Initially they are soaked in water for several days to remove any bitterness, then cooked in white vinegar before finally being preserved in olive oil - they are then used as an antipasto.  

Cyclamen persicum
Yellow Oxalis pescaprae looks wonderful scattered  over the island, but it is not something that you would want in your garden. It spreads everywhere and is impossible to remove
 Family Portulacaceae 

Ferula communis, giant fennel grows in abundance all across the island but it is inedible
Anagalis arvensis - Pimpernel
 The Mimosa trees were just coming into blossom 
Quiz - what is the purpose and function of 
the building below?

Thursday 9 March 2017


Greek goddess of love, beauty and pleasure - her Roman equivalent, Venus
Birth of Venus (detail) - Sandro Botticelli

Three years ago we explored the remains from antiquity of a city called Aphrodisias lying in the fertile upper reaches of the Meander Valley, Turkey
Tetrapylon - the magnificent monumental gateway which led into the city

At its heart are the remains of a great pagan temple dedicated to Aphrodite. Once there were 40 Ionic columns surrounding the temples perimeter, now most lie where they fell during severe earthquake temors in the c4th and c7th.

Birth of Venus Sandro Botticelli - 1484 in Uffizi
But we seek antiquities new as soon we head off to an island where Greek Myths tell us Aphrodite was born 

In the garden this week a large male Green Woodpecker

captured through the window - males have a red moustache, females black - his beak is caked in mud from digging in our lawn looking for grubs

Some garden corners taken this week - fulfilling a request from Catherine
Botticell images via