Saturday, 14 January 2017

Photo essay: Peak District, no. whatever*

*lost count, but who cares, it's the Peak District.

Beyond High Bradfield

Looking toward Lower Bradfield and Loxley

Towards Strines Moor

Castleton towards Winnats Pass

Winnats Pass (from inside the car)

Winnats Pass (from inside the car)

Winnats Pass, back towards Castleton (from inside the car again)

c. bottom of Mam Tor towards Edale

Mam Tor

From Mam Tor towards Cheshire Peak

From Mam Tor towards Kinder Scout

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Photo essay: postcards from Norfolk

At the end of December we spent a few days in Norfolk. Here's 'wot we did on our 'olidays'.

Beaches - Sheringham
We enjoyed both the overcast grey days and the stunning clear blue sky days along the coast.

First up was Sheringham beach and coastline. This was on a day that was thick with fog, but on the coast we managed to see some blue sky.

I was rather taken with this little bird flittering all about the place. I later found this is a Turnstone.

Flint in the walls of buildings were very much a characteristic feature of the area.

And the gates to the Whelk Coppers Tea Rooms were wonderful. I also got the ship to look like it was sailing on the sea.

Beaches - Mundesley
This was the perfect winter day. Not a cloud in the sky, the sun warming you in your coat, and a REAL beach, none of that shingle beach crap. I can't express just how wonderful it felt to be able to enjoy this. Hopefully these pictures can do that instead.

Right: Mundesley beach selfie  :)

Little Kevin, big blue sky, and the North Sea.

History - Paston
Not far from Mundesley was the small village of Paston. For anyone with the slightest knowledge of English history, you will have probably heard of The Paston Letters, even if you don't know much about them. For those not in the know, the Paston's rose from being peasants under the Plantagenet Kings to being holders of high office under the Tudors (c. 14th and 15th centuries). Their correspondence covers politics, business, shopping, the day-to-day running of a large manor (think medium-business), and love.

The village of Paston was that of the Paston family, and we visited the Paston church, St Margarets, which they built.

The best part was the effigy of Lady Katherine Paston, reclining like a lady of luxury.

Look closer, isn't she fabulous?!

Near to the church is the Paston Great Barn, a medieval barn also belonging to the Paston's. It was made of the Norfolk classic flint stone walls and thatched roof. Currently home to some Barbastelle bats, sadly not open for visits so to not disturb them. Lucky bats to have such a barn for their home.

If you are interested in knowing more about the Paston letters during the War of the Roses, I recommend Helen Castor's, Blood and Roses.

The Broads - Fairhaven Garden
We could only fit in one 'broad' (there are lots of Norfolk broads, hence the plural), and chose that of Fairhaven Garden's. Fairhaven are better known for the Fairhaven candelabra Primulas. But the primulas will be for another time. This time, using a mobility scooter (too large for me to explore on foot with #mecfs), we explored the broads and streams running through the garden in winter.

Some of the small broads and streams.

Tree reflections.

I love the way the winter sun captured the different tones in the branches of trees and shrubs.


A large Broad... Breathtaking.

With boathouse.


We really enjoyed these brief few days in Norfolk, and have decided that if Norfolk coast and Broads were this good in winter, we will definitely have to revisit in warmer months.

Saturday, 7 January 2017

In praise of: Cyclamen coum

January, mid-Winter. The days are a mix of cold with blue skies and damp with grey skies. Indifferent to the weather, Cyclamen coum is a burst of much-welcomed colour. It's also known as the Eastern cyclamen as it originates from the Caucuses. It's completely hardy, however, in hard winters it might not flower until early Spring.

It's happy in partial shade, which is good because a lot of us have gardens that don't get much sun in Winter. Although mine are in pots, they are excellent for naturalising, creating a carpet of pink blooms in a border and under trees and shrubs, which in turn will protect them from hot summer sun. I say pink, but there are also white varieties and varying shades between white and deep magenta.

Even the leaves are attractive. As an interesting side point, it is a member of the Primulaceae (primrose) family, and you can kind of see some similarities in the leaves.

This little bulb packs a mighty punch in the depths of Winter, and I think it's worthy of a place in every garden.

Monday, 2 January 2017

Gardening with ME: a floral review of 2016

January: Iris histrioides 'Lady Beatrix Stanley'

As is customary at this time of the year, it's time to undertake a review of how things went in the garden in 2016. However, as my health is poorly, I'm cheating and not writing a review per se. Instead, I looked though my photos through the year and am posting my favourite flowers, and in one case, foliage, from each month.

February: Heucherella 'Tapestry'

March: Hepatica transsilvanica 'Blue Eyes'

April: Narcissus Cragford

May: Tulipa Ballerina

June: Allium hollandicum 'Purple Sensation'

July: Thalictrum 'Anne' 

August: Allium cyaneum

September: Gaura lindheimeri 'Whirling Butterflies'

October: Geranium nodosum 'Clos du Coudray'

November: Quince Cydonia oblonga 'Serbian Gold'

December: Crocus Speciosus Cassiope

Despite the ME affecting my ability to work in the garden through much of the year, the flowers just got on with their jobs, and their performance was exemplary. Brava!

Good gardening to you all in 2017.