Saturday 31 December 2022

Peace, Hope, Goodwill and πŸ’—

Our garden Heathers are now in full bloom, and happily those magical white harbingers of spring, the snowdrops, have also begun to openπŸ’— 

Wednesday 21 December 2022

Winter Solstice 2022

 Newgrange passage tomb in Ireland is one of the earliest and greatest feats of solar alignment, built 500 years before the pyramids in Giza and 1,000 years before Stonehenge. This prehistoric monument built around 3200 BC is associated with the Alban Arthan festival. In the Welsh language, "Alban Arthan" means for "Light of Winter." Alban Arthan is considered to be the oldest seasonal festival of humankind. Part of Druidic traditions, the winter solstice represents a time of death and rebirth.
The UK's most famous site for solstice celebrations is Stonehenge when visitors traditionally enter the mysterious stone circle for a sunrise ceremony run by local pagan druid groups.

Cultures around the world have long held feasts and celebrated holidays around the winter solstice. Fire and light being the traditional symbols of celebrations held on the darkest day of the year.
For me it is that important turning point during our winter months when the nights no longer turn darker but very slowly turn lighter, signalling, brighter, warmer days ahead.

Sunday 11 December 2022

Nature's Artistry

Early in the morning during the last few days, hoarfrost has created stunning artistry by placing tiny ice needles on the plants and leaves.

However, hoarfrosts magic quickly disappears as the sun rises in the sky.
Hoarfrost is a type of feathery frost that forms as a result of specific climatic conditions prevailing at the time.
Once the hoarfrost disappears the residue left often leaves even more small gems to see and admire.

Winter crept in overnight

Friday 2 December 2022

Moments Captured

The parents have taken the family away for their annual summer holiday, this year they have travelled to Norfolk - two boys and a girl.
The girl is me - I am five years old

Having parked our car at the hotel, we three children have rushed down to see the sea. Running barefoot across the warm soft sand to the edge of the sea, I have climbed up on a breakwater. I still remember the joy of the moment, the sun beating down on my face, the sand between my toes, the sound of the waves, the smell of the sea, and the gulls cry. Unbeknown, our father has followed us down, and captured this moment of joy. Do we retain that childlike awe and innocent perception of the wonderment that surrounds us? Or do we become less sensitive to these impulses as we become older? Time does not erode our senses - they may not be as spontaneous, but wonderment remains. 

The following images have captured moments that have brought me joy along with that sense of wonderment.

I am in Cape Town, high up on the summit of Table Mountain. I am totally entranced by these small exquisite orange breasted male sunbirds - Anthobaphes violacea who are feeding on the nectar of the Aloe Vera flowers. They completely ignore my presence, even though I am close enough to touch them.

Cape of Good Hope - the most south-western point of the African Continent. It's early morning; we are the only small group here, but what a great privilege to be able to share this wonderful spot with hundreds of S. African Bank Cormorants - Phalacrocorax neglectus; stretching out as far as the eye can see across the rough sea breakers.

A very close encounter with the 'king of the jungle' in Kruger National Park. Apart from the sheer wonderment of seeing wild animals living in their natural habitat, I was intrigued to discover that not only do some of the animals have pointed teeth and sharp claws, but so too, do some of the indigenous shrubs and trees.

Karoo Acacia

That magical moment when you draw back the shutters first thing in the morning and discover that winter slipped in silently during the night, and painted the landscape bridal white.

Walking in an English Bluebell wood.

We have flown from Delhi to Srinagar in Kashmir lying in the foothills of the snowcapped Himalayas. We are staying on a houseboat in Lake Dal, and are now party to the lake dwellers unique water lifestyle. Lake Dal is where they work, shop, raise their families, and make floating gardens to grow their flowers and vegetables.

Their shallow shakira boats act like a fifth limb as they skim seamlessly across the water; the children learn to paddle a shakira like ours learn to walk. The lake people paddle on one side of the boat only but still travel in a perfectly straight line. Very elderly men sit crossed legged at the end of their shakira's bow or stern, and stand up as if on dry land, without even causing the slightest movement to the boat!

We have left our log cabin in Yala National Park, Sri Lanka, hours before breakfast, and found this beautiful leopard sleeping in a Weera Tree - look at that magnificent tail.   

We admire him, then pass silently below, leaving him in peace.

A particularly memorable moment was encountering this reclusive wild Sloth bear - Melursus ursinus inornatus. It is a Sri Lankan subspecies of Sloth bear, but my excitement was tempered by concerns for this lovely little bear. It is highly threatened with a population of less than a 1000 in Sri Lanka and a wild population that is thought to be no more than 500.

 Sri Lankan Dark Blue Glassy Tiger -

ideopsis vulgaris macrina

Choosing 'moments captured' turned out to be an impossible task - the chosen few being the tip of the iceberg. 

Sri Lanka's national flower

 Lotus flower - Nympheae Stelleta

“The lotus flower blooms most beautifully from the deepest and thickest mud.” – Buddhist Proverb 

"Memories establish the past;

Senses perceive the present;

Imagination shapes the future."

Toba Beta

Friday 18 November 2022

Bodnant....... a Grade 1 listed garden sitting in the foothills of Snowdon/Eryri in Welsh. It has breathtaking views, reflective pools, Italianate terraces, woods, waterfalls, rushing streams, and a deep riverside dell. 

The 60mile trip from the old coaching inn at Machynlleth to Bodnant took us through Snowdon's National Park. The entire journey afforded us a continuous landscape of delight. 

Sitting in the northern part of Wales the garden offers fresh aspects to view and enjoy throughout all four seasons.

The month of May brings garden lovers to Bodnant wishing to see and stroll beneath it's stunning 55meter long brilliant yellow Laburnum arch, a garden feature that is internationally recognised. To see the arch click here. The rich autumn leaf colour on view during our visit this November was still being complimented by a mixture of summer flowers.

The pathway here is edged with Dichorisandra thyrsiflora - blue ginger - a tropical plant hailing from Brazil.

I was taken by surprise to see this Camellia bush completely covered in brand new buds and flowers. Does the plant think that spring has arrived already, and will it flower again in April? Everywhere Christmas adverts show tinsel, baubles, and tables laiden, but outside appears to think its Spring!
The Hydrangeas
and Rhododendron bushes also have new flowers and buds showing. Some Rhododendrons are autumn flowering but the above bush is a spring flowering species.

This delightful Georgian building is known at Bodnant as "The Pin Mill". However, it was built in 1730 in one of the Cotswold valleys below where we live. It was originally built as a garden house to a large property, but eventually it was used as a mill for the manufacture of pins - hence its name. Later it was used as a storehouse for a tannery, but 100 years later it became very dilapidated. A local venture to raise money to repair it failed, and it was bought by Henry, the 2nd Lord Aberconway, who greatly admired it. He had it removed stone by stone, restored, and rebuilt in his Bodnant garden.

"My garden is my most beautiful masterpiece"

 Claude Monet

Friday 11 November 2022

'Croeso i Gymru'........

Safely home having enjoyed a great break in Machynlleth; a small market town located in the lower Dyfi valley, beautifully surrounded by the foothills of Snowdonia's National Park. 
We stayed in a quaint 300 year old Georgian coaching inn where we dined like a Queen. The food was exceptional and memorable. The gold medal chef, Gareth Johns, had the honour of cooking the celebration meal for the Queen when she opened the Welsh Assembly. 
Parliament House - 1404
The town holds an important place in Welsh history. It was once the medieval capital of Wales, and was the location for Owain Glyndwr's parliament, where he was proclaimed king in 1404.
We had some short sudden bursts of rain which did not stop us in our tracks, and were quickly over. It was mild for November, and it was lovely to be out and about enjoying the beautiful surroundings.
The fields, valleys, and mountains are covered in sheep - giving the impression that there are more sheep in Wales than people! 

Welsh cattle are adoreable, with their petite stature, and thick sooty black coats.
The next post will be a wonderful garden near Snowdon; surprisingly it happens to incorporate a small Cotswold building that once stood in the valley below where we live.