Flowers

It was a beautiful morning for a walk with a clear blue sky and fresh breeze.The light was good for taking photgraphs.

Flora and Fauna

I read this week that the temperatures this August have been below average. This is the only month this year to be cooler than average. It has also been wet, as have eight of the past thirteen Augusts. As I have noted before this has resulted in very early signs of autumn.

Some of the photo’s I took this week reflect this but in others the bright green grass makes it look more like spring.

 

Walking along this valley a movement caught my eye and I stopped when this small deer came in sight. My stillness was rewarded when another one followed and I was able to take photo’s as they crossed to the trees on the other side, grazing as they went. As I was about to move on a bigger deer appeared. This one seemed more wary and after checking all around, it quickly galloped across the grass to join the others before disappearing into the trees.

London

One of the things that sets London apart from other major cities is the amount of green space. There are several well-know parks such as Hyde Park as well as a multitude of squares. Walking through London you often come across one of these beautiful tranquil squares within a stones throw of the bustle of the city.

I often cross the river and from the Embankment cut through Lincoln’s Inn and am always amazed at the contrast between the area containing the Inns of Court and the busy roads that intersect it.

Narrow paths and alleys criss cross the area, some still having cobbles to walk on. The architecture is fascinating with many different styles and various decorations that signify the wealth of the companies that built them.

Traversing these walkways you come across many small squares, usually containing some type of garden whether formal or informal and the sound of birdsong is easily heard above the muted roar of the city in the background.

Legoland

A couple of years ago I accompanied some friends to Legoland. Theme Parks don’t appeal to me but the model village constructed here is interesting and well worth a look. A team of people design and create these buildings and provide the maintenance throughout the months the park is open.

Here are a few of the photo’s I took, some of them almost look like the real thing!

 

Signs of Autumn

Walking this morning I was struck by how autumnal it looked. Weather forecasters tell us that meteorologically speaking, autumn begins in August, and although it is still July, there were definite signs of autumn everywhere I looked.

The fact that the day was overcast heightened this feeling as well as the strong breeze but also the beginnings of warmer colours amongst the leaves on the trees as well as an abundance of golden, dead leaves beneath them. I even caught sight of ripe berries in the hedges.

Here are some of the images I captured.

Osterley Park

I visited Osterley Park on a very cool June day that was in marked contrast to the high temperatures of the previous and succeeding weeks. Although it isn’t a huge self contained estate it has an impressively large house and extensive grounds.

Having driven along suburban streets and past Heathrow, with planes skimming the top of the car as they came in to land, entering the grounds seemed like stepping into the past. A drive threaded it’s way through verdant parkland with animals grazing and a range of old farm buildings.

Walking from the car park I passed a lake with lots of wildfowl and birds calling, but their songs were drowned out every few minutes by the roar of aeroplanes flying low overhead. Through the trees I caught a glimpse of the mansion, which looked blank and cold and contrasted sharply with the stables, part of which had been converted into a gift shop and restaurant. I was able to look round the ground floor of the house but found the insistance of the volunteer guides to explain every detail to everyone passing through, somewhat irritating. The highlight was a room without a guide but with a spinning top game that visitors were encouraged to use.

Osterley Park has often been used as a location for film and television including an early episode of Dr Who and films such as The Young Victoria and The Dark Knight Rises.

As it was such a chilly day I decided to have a warm drink before wandering through the gardens and thought that it would be a lovely tranquil place exept for the planes seemingly endless flight above.

 

 

Flowers and Views North Yorkshire

I visited North Yorkshire last weekend and was invited for breakfast at a ‘hidden gem’ near Crayke. The breakfast was delicious and included pancakes cooked in the way I remember from childhood.

The owner used to look after the Museum Gardens in York, and has created a beautiful natural garden around the cafe.

Here are some of the things I saw that day.

A Walk in Savill Garden

The heat and dry weather over the past few weeks has dried the land considerably but there was still plenty to see inside the gardens. I expected to see some birds but this pheasant was an unexpected bonus

The main building was designed to blend into the land and this is aided by a bank of beautiful wild flowers at the front. Inside, interior partitions have been removed and the underside of the roof can be seen rippling away in each direction from the entrance.

 

It was a hot day and the stream had almost dried up but there were things to be found flourishing outside in these conditions.

Inside the glass house I discovered more exotic plants although the temperature was barely higher than outside.

 

My final destination was the rose garden which has an elevated viewing platform. I believe that wall built along the boundary at this point was made from bricks recovered from London after the blitz in WWII.

Smiths Lawn, Windsor Great Park

It is almost mid-summer in England and we have been experiencing unusually high temperatures. When not complaining about this, people seem to be enjoying getting outside more. An acquaintance who was brought up in America has been discussing whether it’s worthwhile investing in an air conditioner for the handful of unbearably hot days scattered over the summer months.

I have lived in numerous hotter climates but like the rest of the population, find prolonged periods of high temperatures difficult to endure. It’s partly because we aren’t well equipped to deal with them, especially at night when houses that have absorbed the heat from the sun all day remain very hot, making it difficult to sleep. Several nights of lying awake, tossing and turning, make for frayed tempers and irritability. However, for those intrepid souls who brave leaving the house, there is much to see and enjoy.

With that in mind I visited Windsor Great Park on a scorching Sunday and discovered many others had had the same idea. The area around Savill Garden was crowded and the ever popular children’s playground near the Obelisk was similarly busy, but I was aiming to watch some polo on Smiths Lawn.

Walking away from the more populous areas I barely saw a soul. My route took me along paths twisting through cool woods with dappled sunlight and shadows flickering amongst the branches and tree trunks. Blinking as I emerged from the shade I saw laid out in front of me a huge swathe of pristine, green turf.

Smiths Lawn is home to the Guards Polo Club and is the largest polo club in Europe. There are ten pitches covering more than a hundred acres and matches are played throughout the summer. My path had brought me out opposite the clubhouse but on match days temporary pens are placed around the perimeter of the pitches where the polo ponies are prepared for their matches. Standing being groomed, fed or watered they look smaller than a race horse and quite placid.

A game was in progress and I stopped to watch. It is very fast-paced and exciting. I don’t know the rules but standing on the side of the pitch with just a six inch board marking the boundary between the match and the spectators is quite frightening. The horses that seemed small and placid in the holding pens take on a different aspect as groups of them thunder towards the boundary in pursuit of the ball. Horse and rider display great skill, twisting, turning and manoeuvring for position. A rider swings his polo stick, makes purchase and the ball flies over the ground with the horses in quick pursuit, leaving me to contemplate the tranquility once again.

Watercress Line

The Watercress Line is so named because it was used to transport watercress to the markets in London. Before that it was a private line built to open up the predominantly agricultural region. It is now run by volunteers who enable it to function as a tourist attraction, thereby preserving it’s history.

There are four stations and each one is presented in a different time period from pre-war to the 1960’s. We began our journey at Alton which is also a mainline station to London Waterloo. Crossing the footbridge, we stepped back in time, hearing the sound of a steam engine running alongside the carriages to get to the front for it’s return journey.

The platform was packed with excited passengers, including a group of school children who were dressed in period costume as they re-enacted the evacuation of children during WWII, complete with cardboard name boards hanging round their necks and wicker baskets containing their lunch. Having this group added to the atmosphere as they blended into the surroundings, unlike the adult passengers who, armed with modern technology could never be mistaken for people from a different period.

The carriages were also from different time periods and we found ourselves at the front of the train, in a rather functional, but attractive carriage with wood panelling and hard seats.

The guard informed us that the first section of the journey would take us over what is termed ‘The Alps’ to Medstead and Four Marks, the highest station in the south of England. From our vantage point at the front, we could hear and feel the thrill of power from the engine as it climbed this section.

After a brief halt at Medstead and Four Marks we progressed to Ropely, which is where the engineering works are situated. This station is set in the mid 1940’s with a Waiting Room, Booking Office and Stationmaster’s Parlour, all decorated in the style of this period. We followed the restoration route around the station, being able to view working trains as well as  a number of engines awaiting restoration in the yard. We crossed the line via the Kings Cross Footbridge, which was made famous in the Harry Potter films.

Alresford marked the last stop and is set during the pre-war period. The Buffet served meals that would have been familiar to visitors from the Twentieth century with such culinary specialities as egg and chips or cheese sandwiches so dried out that the edges were curling over on themsleves. As we contemplated these offerings we felt envious of the group re-enacting the evacuation, who would no doubt have had a tasty Twenty First Century packed lunch to enjoy!

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