Friday, 28 June 2019

Down in Devon

The invitation was to a Greek mid-summers evening party, situated in the middle of lush countryside somewhere between Exeter and the SW coast. Forests of huge trees, very high banked narrow country lanes and quaint little hamlets of thatched cob cottages make loosing your way easy - even our sat. nav. found the terrain confusing.
The wife of our friend is a Greek Cypriot - there were Greek chefs cooking typical varieties of Greek specialities out on their terrace, and as the evening progressed, the stars came out, the music commenced, and the Greek dancing began.

We stayed on a farm situated close to the party where we had our own small self contained outbuilding which had once been the boot and saddle room.
However, it was not completely self contained as every morning a delicious hot English breakfast was kindly delivered. It arrived in a large wicker basket filled with their own delicious farm produce together with freshly baked bread.
The farm dog 'Flo' was a delight, she really wanted us to stay throwing sticks and stones for her all day long, but it was not to be. A lovely sunny day had us making our way down to the coast, here we found a grassy sand dune where we could sit and gaze out to sea and watch the waves roll in. 
Suddenly we spotted a small girl busily exploring her surroundings. We watched as she wriggled her toes down into the sand and saw the puddles of sea water appear around her feet as if by magic. Her curiosity was palpable and a pleasure for us to watch her totally unobserved. The innocence and curiosity of early childhood is very special but so brief.

At the Seaside
When I was down beside the sea
A wooden spade they gave to me
To dig the sandy shore.

My holes were empty like a cup.
In every hole the sea came up,
Till it could come no more.
Robert Louis Stevenson

Friday, 21 June 2019

Freebies in the Garden

During Spring and summer many colourful little visitors favour us with their presence in the garden. 

I love the many Papaver somniferum - Opium poppies seen in the garden this year. They are stately, very robust, and have great structure. Their seeds are edible and can be used in cakes and sprinkled on homemade bread. 
I am not sure how they arrived - possibly they were carried here on the wind, but I think that it is most likely that they came courtesy of some birds.
More free colour is supplied by the Meadow Crane's-Bill which is a member of the Geranium family.
There seems to be a significant increase in the bee population this year which is very pleasing.
These Common Spotted Orchids grow as individual flowers in the grasslands that surround our home, but here they have formed a clump and found themselves a home in the middle of a large Phormium tenax - New Zealand flax plant that I have growing in a huge pot.


There are lots of these Meconopsis cambrica - Welsh poppies, which have been in flower continuously since the early Spring.
Plenty of wild Aquilegia vulgaris - Columbine - they tend to hybridise with my cultivated ones and produce a variety of different colours.

At this time of year there is a bountiful show of pink and white Foxgloves gracing the bottom of our hedgerow which are also much loved and visited by the bees.
Not all of the wild plants that arrive are welcome, but all of these are.

Sunday, 16 June 2019

Scam Warning

I consider myself to be reasonably 'savvy' where scams are concerned but even so it appears that you can be scammed without even leaving home or loosing your card.
I refuse to pay any unnecessary bank overdraft charges, so keep a close eye on our accounts. Last week I noticed a discrepancy of £50 between the banks balance and my own which I could not understand. I, therefore, asked the bank for a printout showing the latest transactions over the past four weeks. I checked that all of the £50 withdrawals had been accounted for and all were present and correct. Next I asked my husband to check my own account figures whilst I went through the Bank Statement item by item. I came across three withdrawals just one week ago, all on the same day, from someone totally unknown. £20, £10, and another £20 cash to O2 UK PAY AND GO. Pay and go is precisely what they had done. They had made their name appear to be similar to the mobile phone company 'O2 Pay as you Go'. I found it rather confusing trying to work out how this could possibly happen as I still had my Debit Card safely in my hand. This is one of the reason why I do not like or use the contactless card waving business which takes your money without even requiring your pin number. Another confusing thing is that I never use my Debit Card for shopping or internet transactions, but simply for withdrawing cash. I always shield the pin number and make sure that the cash machine appears to have no hidden cameras. 
I contacted my bank straightaway and was put through to the fraud department who immediately seemed to recognise the scam, and said that they would return the money and cancel my card. A replacement card was sent to me which arrived the following day.
I have no idea at all just how this scam happened, but obviously it pays to keep a close eye on all of your account transactions. If I had not noticed the discrepancy and not cancelled the card then apparently the withdrawals would have continued.

Sunday, 9 June 2019

Iford Manor, Bradford-on-Avon

The origins of the manor date back to the 15th century, but the handsome classical Georgian facade was added during 1730. The woodlands to the rear of the manor were planted at the end of the 18th century, and now form the perfect backdrop to Edwardian Garden Designer Harold Peto's magical garden.

A statue of Britannia surmounts the ancient bridge.

Sitting on the southerly slopes of the Frome Valley, Iford Manor enjoys views across the river and over to the far side of this beautiful valley.
This setting is where Harold Peto designed and developed his own garden during the 34 year period that he lived in the Manor. A garden that expresses his great love of Italy and all things Italian, but which also blends in seamlessly with its English surroundings and countryside. 
Harold Peto was an Arts and Crafts architect and one of the great landscape designers of his period, an exponent of the ultra-romantic Italianate style so fashionable during the first two decades of the twentieth century. He bought Iford Manor in 1899 and lived there until his death in 1933. 
Wherever you are in the garden there are splendid vistas and views across the valley.

Once a year on a summer evening Iford holds an intimate opera within these cloisters for just 80 people who are seated on all four sides.
The cloisters along with most features within the garden are made from antique architectural fragments that Peto purchased and collected in Italy over a period of many years following his frequent visits there. 
Queen of Heaven, rejoice, alleluia. For he whom thou didst deserve to bear, alleluia. 
These angels are holding the words of a Catholic prayer - which then continues.....
Is risen again as He said, Alleluia. Pray for us to God, Alleluia.


The stone garden house is an original Georgian one that was already in the garden. Harold Peto relocated it to the end of his Great Terrace where it acts as an eye catcher.
Steps lead on up from the Great Terrace
to a small Japanese style garden hidden away in the woods.
Lush planting complimented by all of the antique stoneware on The Great Terrace creates a visual feast. 















Saturday, 1 June 2019

June in the Garden

I have long admired the splendid Italianate rill and water channels at Buscot designed for Lord Farrington by the Edwardian Garden Designer, Harold Peto. 
Walking the rill takes you down a couple of flights of stone steps from the house,
 past this delightful playful dolphin and putti water feature, 
across this manicured stretch of lawn, and over a small bridge, until you eventually reach the lake.
This is just a taster of what is yet to come as soon we are heading off in a slightly different direction to view the garden designed by Harold Peto for himself.

Everything in our garden is currently growing like 'topsy'.
Today we have planted up the hanging baskets, and lots of tubs with various geraniums. I have made, what I am hoping, will be a blue flower pyramid. I have used some homegrown Ipomoea seedlings - heavenly blue 'morning glories' along with some bright blue Convolvulus seedlings - 'royal ensign'. Fingers crossed that they will mature and become established before any hungry creatures come visiting the garden.