BeenThere-DoneThat Blog

A blog about life and travel in Great Britain

Cold, and Yellow Trumpets

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You may remember that in my previous post I showed a photograph of a solitary wild daffodil on the Croft Castle Estate and said that were more plants round about and that we may come back in a few weeks time for another look.

In the meantime I have managed to develop a stinking cold so I’m not feeling terribly bright. However we decided to go back to Croft Castle and see if I could manage the walk. Well I could.

There were more daffodils with their trumpet-like flowers as we suspected in two separate areas and the picture below is one of those areas.

This is the second area.

It is possible that there could be even more in flower in a week or so. Remember that these are wild daffodils which are about half the size of the garden variety.

I managed to stagger back uphill to the National Trust restaurant were we had some lunch and went home.

Butterflies and Flowers

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Butterflies? Flowers? February? It’s not as silly as it sounds. It all started this morning with a bright sun in a cloudless sky – it was going to be a beautiful day so we just had to go somewhere. That somewhere turned out to be Croft Castle.

We wanted to try and find some snowdrops which were supposed to be found in Pokehouse Wood. Don’t ask me where that name comes from because I don’t know and I’m not about to start guessing but the wood is on the western edge of the Croft Castle Estate. If one parks at Croft Castle then it’s going to be a five and a half mile return walk to Pokehouse Wood which we didn’t really want to do so we, naturally, cheated. On the way to Croft Castle we pass through the small village of Amestrey which, surprisingly, is on the western edge of the Croft Castle Estate so we didn’t pass through, we stopped and parked.

We used a public footpath to reach the edge of Croft Castle Estate where we found a sign, by some steep steeps, which told us that we had arrived at Pokehouse Wood. Up the steps we went and eventually arrived at a wide path where we turned right. Walking along the path, which we noticed was going downhill very slowly, we kept a lookout for Snowdrops. Not a sign. Not a tiny speck of white to be seen anywhere. But then we found these. Not a lot admittedly but it is a start.

As the path was going downhill we eventually arrived at river level, you can see the river below us in the image above, onto another path where we turned right.

Then things started to get interesting.

So, finally, we did find a few. We also noticed that the Snowdrop flowers were beginning to die back so we were lucky that we hadn’t left it another week as we may then have been disappointed.

We also spotted this solitary Primrose.

The path we were on seemed to be heading back towards our starting point so we decided to risk it and continued on this path. It wasn’t long before we arrived at the bottom of the steps we had climed previously so we needn’t have climbed them in the first place. Bummer!

On our way back along the public footpath we stopped to have a look at this tree.

Now that is a tree that you couldn’t easily miss. That tiny person at the bottom is Amanda trying to identify it. She eventually decided that it was a Wellingtonia. Wellingtonias are native to California in America and that is where they grow to their maximum height. They do also grow in other parts of America but not to such a height. However they do also like it here in Britain; growing not to such a height as they grow in California but higher than they grow in other parts of America.

We drove round to the car park in Croft Castle then walked to the restaurant where we had some much appreciated sustenance.

Our next plan was to walk around the upper reaches of Fishpoool Valley so we set off and came across another interesting tree.

This is known as the Candelabra Oak which Amanda estimates can’t be far short of 1000 years old. So you should be able to work out that it is an Oak and I don’t want any dimwits asking “Barry, why is it called the Candelabra Oak” as it should be fairly obvious. We started down the wooded path into Fishpool Valley.

Some way further down we saw, across on the other side, the Grotto which we had heard about but hadn’t seen so we went across to have a look.

It has to be said that we were not awe struck. Apparently some of it is now missing but what and where I don’t know. The second photograph above shows the Grotto on the left with Amanda sitting a little way in front. Walking on we came across our third flower of the day – a wild daffodil.

From the look of the area there should be a lot more of those in bloom in a few more weeks. We’ll have to come back and see. Back to our walk. The path went on – and on – and on.

It may be long but we were enjoying it. At this time of year with no leaves on the trees and a low sun the atmosphere was ethereal.

Our final picture, before we climbed out of Fishpool Valley and went back to our car, is of one of the ponds. The surface of the water was completely still and acted like a mirror showing some amazing reflections.

We also saw some butterflies – a Brimstone, a Comma and a Small Tortoiseshell so it must be Spring. That was the end of our day but we hope to be back for more daffodils – weather permitting.

Barry & Amanda go to Paradise

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It may be that this may not quite match your vision of Paradise and, in fact, it probably doesn’t match ours either but it’s there in writing so it must be true.

This trip was to be a test to see if it was going to be practicable to visit Birmingham as a number of day trips by train rather than staying there for a number of days.

We left home at about 9:00 AM and walked to the station and caught the 9:23 AM train for Shrewsbury. It was an uneventful journey of about 50 minutes and we waited at Shrewsbury for about 20 minutes for our train to Birmingham New Street Station and after another uneventful journey of about an hour we arrived in Birmingham.

This was going to be an ‘Indoors’ day, as it was quite cold out, so we were aiming to go to Victoria Square first and visit the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery. We found our way to the exit nearest to Victoria Square and emerged into what I think was Navigation Street. Brrrr! We then walked north along Pinfold Street, right up Ethel Street then left at the top which led us to Victoria Square. It was all rather confusing because the centre of Birminham is like a building site at the moment with hoardings and diversions everywhere.

We found the museum quite easily and went inside (entry is free). The travelling time taken to this point is approximately 3 hours although it didn’t seem too onerous.

One has to then go upstairs to the next level where the museum starts at the Round Room. The museum itself is a 19th-century Grade II listed building.

The structure of the Round Room, like many of the other galleries, is worthy of observation especially the large glass-domed roof. The passage to the right of the central figure is ‘The Bridge’ which crosses the street below and this is that same bridge from outside.

The first gallery we visited was the Industrial Gallery which was mostly wood, jewelry and ceramics related items but the gallery itself is certainly worth examining. The construction features a lot of metal, which I assume is cast iron, and note the circular metal decorations at the top of the support columns.

The large columnar structure hanging down in the centre of the picture is one of a number of Victorian gas lights and it has not yet been determined how they functioned.

Needless to say we found our way to the Edwardian Tea Room just beyond the Industrial Gallery as it was now about lunchtime.

This view was taken from the upper galleries that follow on from the Industrial Upper Gallery and it’s also worth showing you this gallery and its roof.

Typically Victorian with more ironwork and the same gas lamps hanging from the roof as in the Industrial Gallery. Rather attractive don’t ya think?

We had lunch here and found it to be very comfortable with very good food. We ended up sharing a table, as it was busy at one o’clock, and had some very pleasant conversation with two very nice people from Suffolk. The conversation included, as one would expect, on how to ride a penny farthing bicycle.

After lunch we moved on through the Round Room into the main part of the museum and, let me tell you, one could get lost in here. After going down one level we found ourselves in the Gas Hall and, no I don’t know how the name is derived. We weren’t particularly interested in the exhibits but, again, it’s a rather nice Victorian building.

Going back upstairs into the maze of galleries we found an amazing choice of subjects.

In that picture above you can see the arch into the next gallery and on the far side is another arch ad infinitum. It is easy to get lost unless, perhaps, you carry a floorplan with you ( they are downloadable on the web).

Amanda specifically wanted to see the Staffordshire Hoard; one of the biggest finds of gold objects in this country and we did actually manage to find the gallery. This is a picture I took later on from the Egyptian Gallery on the floor above.

The helmet above is a replica of the original which was discovered as a multitude of small fragments. The person who deduced its original form must have been an expert on jigsaws.

In the picture of the gallery taken from above you may have noticed in the top left corner there was a small fragment of a freize showing; this is more of that freize.

The frieze is a replica of the Parthanon frieze in the British Museum and is otherwise known as the Elgin Marbles. It can be seen from the Egyptian Gallery.

We had now decided that it was time to move on to our next location and as we were leaving we spotted a small case, near the Friends of Birmingham Museums desk, no more than 2 feet square.

It was a single small pot as seen above but the image is repeated multiple times and is known as an Infinity Box.

This particular box is an ingenious piece of fine craftmanship made from a variety of beautiful woods, including burr walnut, Indian rosewood and white maple, surmounted by an illuminated glass box containing mirrors that enable the viewer to see Infinity from all directions.

It also works if one walks 360 degrees round the case; a fascinating experience.

We finally left the museum to locate our next building. The building in question is that very distinctive one in the centre of the next picture – the Birmingham Library.

The exterior is certainly unique but I can’t decide yet whether I like it or hate it. I do know, however that I like the interior.

For those of you who dislike modern buildings look away now.

That picture gives you an idea of what the interior is like. The building has 9 floors with a lift serving all floors or escalators from the 4th floor down to the ground floor.

Going up to the very top floor gives access to the roof viewing platform.

This platform is on one side of the building only i.e. it does not go all the way round. This time of the year is not the best time for this sort of photograph as the sun is very low and the lighting rather contrasty plus the fact that the place is covered in cranes.

However this platform does give access to this:

This is the Shakespeare Memorial Room.

The Shakespeare Memorial Room was created and designed to house the Shakespeare Memorial Library by John Henry Chamberlain in 1882. He was responsible for re-building the old Central Library after the original building was gutted by fire in 1879 and the Shakespeare Memorial room opened off the new wing of the that building.

The room is in an Elizabethan style with carvings, marquetry and metalwork representing birds, flowers and foliage. The woodwork is by Mr Barfield, a noted woodcarver; the brass and metal work by Hardmans. The ceiling decoration is stencilled.

Controversy surrounded plans to demolish the Central Library in 1971 so this room was re-built as part of the Library of Birmingham.

The next level down, Level 8, is, so I understand, not accessible to the public. Going down to Level 7 gives access to the Secret Garden.

This is one of the Roof Terraces and not the best time of year to see a garden but we cannot change that. We will try and visit again during the summer months. It does however give another high level viewpoint and one with fewer cranes.

There is another roof terrace further down, about Level 3 as I remember, shown below.

So back inside which is a lot warmer than it is out here.

There are an awful lot of books in here. Apart from the shelves you can see in the pictures there are further galleries radiating from the central space which are lined both sides with book shelves.

We decided it was about time we made our way back to the railway station but just opposite the station we spotted something worth inspecting.

That is the Piccadilly Shopping Arcade which was originally built as a luxury cinema in 1910 and was later converted to a shopping arcade in 1925. Nice hand-painted ceiling.

We went back into the station and bought something to eat on the train from Shrewsbury to Knighton then discovered that we had a choice of three trains; one just after 4:00 PM, one just after 4:30 PM and one just after 5:00 PM. Whatever train we choose we cannot afford to miss that last one otherwise we miss the last train from Shrewsbury to Knighton and wouldn’t be able to return home until tomorrow.

All good so far. We decide to get the earliest train which would get us into Shrewsbury in time to have a leisurely coffee before catching the Knighton Train. That was the theory until we saw the train – it was packed with lots of people standing and we didn’t want to be standing for an hour. Bummer!

We decide to get the second train which leaves from a different platform. We find the platform and wait in the cold. The train arrives and that one is also packed. In fact it is so full that we not allowed to get on. Double bummer! One of the local commuters tells us that this happens every weekday.

This is getting serious! We cannot afford not to get on the next train. We go back to the original platform and we wait in the cold again. When the train stops everyone on the train gets off and we are reasonable near the doors that we get on to the now empty train fairly soon and actually get some seats. Whew! The train soon fills up as much as the one we first saw but at least we aren’t standing.

There are no more problems and we arrive in Shrewsbury on time with 10 minutes to catch our next train which is waiting in the platform and, as usual, there is plenty of room.

Well I said this was a test trip and it taught us that day trips to Birmingham are not a good idea. To avoid the rush hour we would have to leave before 3:30 PM which would make our sightseeing day unacceptably short. If we go again, and we hope to, we are going to have to stop for at least two nights. So we now need to find a nice hotel near the centre of Birmingham that provides dinner as well as breakfast.

We shall see.

Happy Christmas

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We would like to wish all our visitors a very happy christmas and a happy new year.

It seems almost certain that we won’t be having any snow before the new year but after that who knows?

The New King!

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We were in the Offa’s Dyke Centre in Knighton recently and we are now able to introduce you to the new king.

This is the old King Offa:

and this is the new King Offa:

The throne is a replica of what King Offa’s throne would have looked like. The king is a replica of what King Offa wouldn’t have looked like but then you can’t have everything can you?

Our weather

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About a year ago I purchased a weather station which I erected in our garden where it has been standing since. I thought that you might like to see some aspects of our weather over the last year.

First the temperature (Blue Line). You can ignore the red line which is the Dewpoint.

  

Secondly the rain.

And lastly the barometric pressure.

If you prefer it in tabular form:

High Temperature   85.8°F at 08-Jul-2018 16:38
Low Temperature   19.5°F at 28-Feb-2018 22:26

High Humidity       95% at 04-Jan-2018 08:20
Low Humidity       21% at 25-Jun-2018 13:05

High Barometer     30.729 inHg at 22-Oct-2018 12:32
Low Barometer     29.050 inHg at 05-Mar-2018 23:02

Rain Total 40.69 in
High Rain Rate 6.00 in/hr at 28-Jul-2018 14:39

High Wind 27 mph from 224° at 24-Jan-2018 02:14

This, remember, is all in our garden in Knighton on the Welsh/English border and is not necessarily relevant to other parts of the country but it gives an overall impression.

The weather station does not measure hours of sunlight which is a pity.

 

Amanda was in stitches :-))

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No it wasn’t funny it’s just that she’s had the stitches in her foot taken out today.  :banana:

The swelling has reduced considerably and the dressing on her foot has also been removed. A step (no pun intended) in the right direction.

Rocks and Red

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A short while back, before Amanda had her foot operation, we had to go to Llandrindod Wells and I stopped to take this photograph on the way.

It shows a hill called Llandegley Rocks but known locally as the Dragon’s Back and perhaps you can see why. We keep promising ourselves that we will climb it one day but we haven’t managed to do it yet (we are afraid of disturbing the dragon).

As travelling, especially walking, is out of bounds at present I did a little travelling in our garden today and photographed our Japanese Acer. I must say I have never seen it quite so red as it is now. I thought you may like to see it.

Amanda’s foot is progressing slowly but it’s going to be a long time before she can do any serious walking.

Chop, Chop – Hop, Hop

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Some time back (years) Amanda had an operation to correct a bunion problem on her right foot (Original post). Well now she’s had the left foot done (4 days ago) so we shall be unable to travel for some weeks, possibly months, as she is having to move around on crutches.

We had some fun on the first night as, when getting ready for bed, she discovered that the bandage was soaked in blood and she was leaving red footprints on the bathroom floor. A telephone call to the doctor suggested that it would be safe to leave until the morning, which we did, and to then contact the hospital.

Next morning the hospital asked her to return, which we did, and they discovered that three stitches had come undone. They have corrected it by using sticky strips across the incision to hold it together but she must have it looked at again by our local doctor on Monday.

So we’ll have nothing to keep us out of mischief for the next few weeks.  :twisted:

Concrete and Roses

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Gregynog Hall is a one hour drive from home.

Let’s get the pronunciation right first. The ‘y’ is not pronounced as ‘ee’ as in ‘silly’ but ‘i’ as in ‘bite’. The ‘greg’ part is emphasised more than the rest. Sorted!

This style is the sort of thing that you would have seen on farmhouses in Montgomeryshire many centuries ago but this building is not what it seems and it has a rather complicated history.

There has been a building on this site since the 12th century but the original medieval hall was demolished and rebuilt in 1577 and then demolished and rebuilt again in the late 1840s. So is that the end of the story then? Well, no, it isn’t because it isn’t actually a timber-framed building. The facade that you see is concrete moulded and painted to appear as a timber-framed building and is one of the earliest uses of concrete for such a purpose.

So the current building is Victorian but includes some parts of the older buildings. The building itself is not normally open to the public because it is now used as a study centre for the University of Wales but today it was open as part of ‘Wales Open Doors’, the equivalent of the English ‘Heritage Open Days’. The grounds are normally open to the public but we didn’t look around the grounds because the weather was poor. We will probably return to explore the gardens at some stage.

So let’s go in.

This entrance takes us straight into the Lounge.

That ‘Chesterfield’ style seating looks very loungy and it was, as we discovered later, when we lounged there drinking our coffee and eating our very scrumptious cake.

The room next door was the Blayney Room which featured the original medieval wood panelling.

The carving over the fireplace was very intricate and amazing.

Just down the hall was the Library and what is now called the Senior Common Room. I don’t know the Common Room’s original name; looks pretty comfy though.

That was the end of our short visit but we hope to return with better weather to explore the grounds and gardens although on this visit Amanda found a Rose Border which looked very interesting. Our next visit may not be until next year.