Wednesday, 16 March 2016

spring in the garden

Everywhere around the village is turning yellow with daffodils. I have a few but I'm not very keen on yellow flowers so for the most part my spring garden is blue, white and pink.


and Hyacinths.

All of the hyacinths had their first year in pots in the house before being planted out in the garden. After a few years the flowerheads are smaller and sometimes the plants disappear completely but each year a few more make it into the garden to contribute to the spring display.

Lastly, a summer clematis, almost in flower. I know I should be cutting this back. Monty Don definitely mentioned cutting back hard even though this year there would be flowers already - it seems a shame and I haven't got round to it yet!

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

A weekend away

Last weekend we went to Devon to see my parents. I think I have mentioned before that they now feel that they want just a short visit of an hour or two, anything longer creates a lot of anxiety. We do as they wish but it always seems a long way to go for so short a time. We try to make a weekend of it and squeeze in some time at the coast.

This is Budleigh Salterton in East Devon. I grew up in Somerset and this is somewhere I have been coming for most of my life and on the surface it seems unchanged over the years.

On the beach,  freshly caught fish for sale. There was a steady trade and the gulls were interested in any trimmings as the fish were prepared for sale.

This young gull was tackling a starfish.

Another view of the beach. In the summer there are pastel coloured beach huts along side the beach, it looks different in the winter with uninterrupted views of the beach.

We visited Mum and Dad on Saturday afternoon and then again on Sunday morning before making our way home.

We take the A303 home and often try to find somewhere new on the way to stop and explore. This time we chose Shaftesbury. It was very quiet on a Sunday afternoon with the shops closed but it looked as if it would be a bustling sort of place at other times. We had a coffee before strolling round the town.

Good views over the surrounding countryside.

We followed a path down to the bottom of Gold Hill, made famous by the Hovis TV advert.

This is the view looking up,

a few of the cottages

and the famous view looking down.

We noticed that there were no television aerials or satellite dishes - perhaps there are regulations against these being visible.

As you can see from the photographs, there was nobody about - the benefit of playing tourist out of season.

There are two museums open in the spring and summer. The Gold Hill museum which sounds quite interesting and also the grounds of the Abbey and the Abbey museum. I'd like to make a return visit when these are open - might not be so peaceful on the hill then though.

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Jersey - a mini break

January and February have been unsettling months for us, several family issues arising at once (we are the sandwich generation) and we have both been feeling drained. We decided on a short break, nothing too far away or adventurous, simply a time away from the day to day stuff that fills our heads.

We chose to spend four nights in Jersey, a short flight from Gatwick and a place that we had visited before. We stayed in St Helier, the capital and walked, drank coffee and rested.

The tourist season runs from April to November so most of the well known attractions were closed but we found plenty to explore within a few miles.

Elizabeth Castle in St Helier is accessible by causeway at low tide.

Although the castle itself was closed we  were able to walk over the rocks to the far side of the island and found we had the place to ourselves.

St Helier is named after Saint Helerius who brought Christianity to Jersey and spent fifteen years living on the island apparently founding a hermitage in a cave. Today there is a little building on top of Hermitage rock, I'm not sure if this would be the same place.

I photographed the inside of the building through the door, not sure I would want to spend fifteen years here.

In summer the amphibious castle ferry runs from the island to the main shore, in the winter you have to watch for the tides which in Jersey come in very rapidly. This was the view back to the castle as we got back - possibly cut it a little fine!

Below is Mont Origuel castle at Gorey, a short bus trip from St Helier. It was low tide when we were there but it still looked very pretty in the sunshine.

Another view of the bay. The coverings on the hillside are protecting the famous Jersey Royal potatoes which are planted on south facing slopes to receive maximum sunshine during the winter months. These looked snugly tucked up and protected from frost. It must be hard to harvest them on such a slope. Jersey Royals always appear expensive but when you see the effort that goes into growing them then the price seems reasonable.

The weather wasn't all sunshine, we had rain, high winds and grey days as well. St Aubin  and St Helier are at opposite ends of a three mile long curved sandy bay, a perfect distance for walking one way having a coffee and catching the bus the other. This is a small beach near St Aubin, an advantage of visiting out of season is that we had these peaceful places to ourselves.

Whilst in St Aubins we stopped at the Harbour Gallery which is well worth a visit. Lots of crafts, many paintings, all by local artists and even a small knitting shop. There is a coffee shop to build up energy for the walk back. We needed the warmth of coffee inside us because the weather changed to this

and then to this. Rain, high winds and high tides all together - we walked a little way back from the promenade at this point!

Generally though the Channel Islands have milder winters than the UK. The Alexanders along the roadsides was much more advanced than here

and in the parks I saw these stocks still blooming in February.

Lots of lovely Chaenomeles

and some rather exotic looking species that I don't know.

One last look at Elizabeth Castle at high tide as we caught the bus to the airport. A little escape to a different world. It did us good.