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Sun, Sea and Sand – Day Four

Sun, Sea and Sand – Day Four

Today is our last full day in Tenby as we leave in the morning to go back home. We are going to look at the Merchants House (National Trust) in Tenby then we will explore the area around South Beach (our hotel is on North Beach).

On our way we pass through some more of Tenby’s narrow, picturesque lanes.

I had to crawl through this next one as my head wouldn’t fit in the narrow bit. Surely they can’t get any narrower than this can they?

Tenby was never built to accommodate motor vehicles and, in consequence, there are sometimes traffic jams to be had. In Tenby a traffic jam might consist of only a half dozen vehicles, because of the narrow roads, and it doesn’t usually last for long. Because of those narrow roads the traffic moves very slowly anyway so it’s not a real problem.

We later passed this rather fine Victorian Post Box.

The Merchants House, run by the National Trust, is in the back alleys – that’s it facing the camera. It dates from 1500 which makes it the oldest house still standing in Tenby. The front part of the ground floor would have been used as a shop and the rear part as the kitchen.

This next picture shows the kitchen with its huge fireplace and the door to the small courtyard at the rear of the house. The courtyard is shown in the following picture.

Going up the stairs leads into the family’s living quarters. The wooden frame on the right is the banister rail around the stairwell.

On the top floor are the sleeping quarters and everyone would have slept in this room.

We left the Merchants House and walked to South Beach. I’m fairly sure that this beach is significantly longer than North Beach. Have you spotted the palm trees?

We found our way down to the beach and turned towards the town (I wasn’t prepared to walk all the way to the other end of this beach then all the way back again). We noticed this cave and went over to explore.

This was not an enormous cave but we were surprised at how far into the rock it went bearing in mind that it’s formed by the action of the sea.

Further along we noticed the section of the old town wall and tower still surviving.

There are some lovely bits of garden dotted about on the cliffs and this was one of them. Very pretty.

That picture should tell you that we have climbed up from the beach and are, once again, on the cliff top.

That was the end of our fourth day and although we are staying one more night we will be leaving first thing after breakfast and travelling home. Although we intend to call in at Dinefwr Park on our way back I had already mentioned our visit on the way here and used some of the photographs taken on our way back so there is nothing more to add.

There won’t be a ‘Day Five’ report so until next time.

Sun, Sea and Sand – Day Two

Sun, Sea and Sand – Day Two

That is the view from our hotel room this morning and it’s a beautiful start to a beautiful day. This is the outside of our hotel,

this is the inside of our room

and this is part of the hotel’s gardens which go down to the beach.

We were on our way into the town once again but we weren’t going via the beach mainly because the tide is only now going out and I think our passage along the beach would be blocked by the sea until later. This next view is a short way along the road from the hotel. You can see that the tide is still relatively high and that lump of rock from yesterday is showing on the right.

On our way we went past yet another of Tenby’s interesting narrow lanes.

We were on our way to see the ancient medieval town walls. Not all of the wall remains but there are some remaining substantial sections of which this is one. Couldn’t really miss it could you?

These next two pictures show one of the old town gates – first from the outside and then from the inside.

This gate looks heavily fortified to me. I wonder who they were expecting. We soon found ourselves walking along yet another of those attractive narrow lanes.

We were heading for Castle Hill and, as it is a relatively large lump, we thought that it would be obvious but it was so well masked by the surrounding buildings that we had to resort to looking at the map. That put us on the right road.

Here you can see Amanda staggering up the hill. That doesn’t imply that I wasn’t staggering it’s just that I was staggering slightly faster than she was.

Well here we are at the top showing the only remaining tower of the medieval castle, the cannon trained at the French coast and a rather good view of the town.

Our next target was St. Catherine’s Island. It’s an island only at high tide but now the tide was out enough for us to walk across the beach to reach it. That tower on the left in the picture below is part of the old town walls.

One does have to pay a small entrance fee but we thought it would be worth it so we set off passing through this archway, a remnant of the old town wall, to reach the beach.

We paid our fee to a young lady on the beach at the foot of the stairway that gives access to the island and started up the steps.

Then along a short path.

At the end of that path we have to cross a small bridge over a chasm in the rock and Amanda couldn’t help bragging by stopping above the chasm to have her photograph taken.

We did get to the top and found this rather large Victorian fort built to counter a perceived threat of invasion by Napoleon.

We left the fort and St. Catherine’s Island and decided that that was the end of our day so we went back to the hotel.

Sun, Sea and Sand – Day One

Sun, Sea and Sand – Day One

We struck lucky with the weather on this trip although the first part of the first day was cloudy (no sun, sea or sand) but after that it was sun all day every day.

We left home at about 9.00 AM for a two and a half hour journey so decided to break it up by visiting a National Trust Property at about the one and a half hour mark.

We stopped at Dinefwr Park and, for those of you that don’t know, Dinefwr is pronounced “Din ever”. It consists of Newton House (a stately home), the ruins of a medieval castle (Dinefwr Castle) and lots of parkland which is home to a herd of deer.

As I mentioned above this morning was cloudy but I took the following picture anyway.

However we called in here again on our way home when the weather was better and I photographed it again. Which picture do you think is better?

Inside the house it didn’t matter what the weather was like outside so I carried on taking photographs.

Those rooms, as you might expect, look rather grand. The Dining Room in the top picture and the Sitting Room in the bottom picture. The interesting thing about this property is that nobody minds if you touch the furniture or walk on the carpets or even sit on the chairs.

I did go out to the back of the house where it overlooks the Deer Park and surprise, surprise I saw some deer. They were quite a long way away so even using my telephoto lens to its maximum this is the best that I could achieve. You should, at least, be able to see their antlers.

I took that photograph above from the small formal garden shown below which is at the back of the house. That is the only gardens they have here.

We also had a look at the castle both times we stopped here so as the weather was better on the way back these photographs are from then.

There is a reasonable amount to see in this castle ruin even extending to a few medieval spiral stairways which can be tricky to negotiate because the height of each tread can vary as can the width.

It is possible to see Newton House, together with some lovely views, from some of the high points of the castle so it is worth the scramble.

We had some lunch here at Dinefwr then headed off to our final destination. We booked into our hotel and after sorting out our parking space (they have only 10) which we had reserved we went outside and this is the first photograph I took of Tenby from outside the hotel.

Here in Tenby at 4 o’clock we now have sea and sand but no sun yet but we set off to explore anyway. The hotel has gardens at the front that are terraced down the steeply sloping cliffs to the beach and that is where we went.

It is now 5 o’clock and look, the sun has appeared! So now, finally, we have sun, sea and sand. What a change in just an hour.

We were able to walk along the beach as the tide was out and went to have a look at that lump of rock sticking through the sand. You can see that the rock bedding is steeply inclined and, as we later discovered, that applies to most of the rock on this coast. That tiny bit of head together with a splash of red on the right-hand edge is Amanda.

We walked along the beach until we found some steps up into the town. This is a view back the way we came from town level. You can see that lump of rock that we stopped to make friends with and just to the left of it is a small cream building. Our hotel is directly above that.

It is now 5:30 PM and you may notice that the cloud is dispersing rapidly.

Now I have to ask – have you ever seen a fat seagull?

Well you have now. As you can no doubt work out it is a little cafe so we went in for some coffee and cake.

It was a nice little place and the cake was good. That’s Amanda over on the right against the wall. Having finished our refreshments we went back into the town. Want some colour? We can find you some colour!

This is just one of the many narrow lanes in Tenby. There is plenty more to see but we are calling it a day and are going back to the hotel until tomorrow.

One Old, One New – Day 1

One Old, One New – Day 1

We were sitting in the No. 2 bus in a traffic jam, with the sea on our left, wondering whether it would be quicker to get out and walk but we decided that, as we were averaging about walking pace, we might as well sit and let the bus do the work.

Perhaps we should go back earlier today to give you the full story.

It was forecast to be a sunny day today and tomorrow but cloudy thereafter so we hoped to take advantage of that short sunny spell and go on a little trip. We left home at about 08:30 AM and drove two and a half hours to Swansea. You may remember we came here before but travelled by train ( The Other End – Day 2 ) whereas this time it would be by car.

We arrived at Morgan’s Hotel near the Waterfront, where we had stayed on our previous trip, and parked in their car park then announced our arrival at Reception. We then walked the short distance to the bus station and caught the No. 2 bus to Oystermouth although we weren’t going that far. We intended to alight at Clyne Gardens for a second visit which is how we ended up in that traffic jam. We didn’t want to drive to Clyne Gardens although there is a small car park by the entrance because we couldn’t be sure of finding a space and the charge was £3 for 3 hours and there wasn’t any other option.

The bus did eventually get us to Clyne Gardens 15 minutes late on a 15 minute journey. We were here to see the Rhododendrons again and we weren’t disappointed.

When we were here last time I photographed ‘The Tower’ which was included on the main web site pages but not in the Blog post. I repeat that image here so that you can see how badly lit the tower is such that it’s not at all easy to interpret what you’re seeing. We were significantly later in the day on this visit and I photographed it again. The lighting is much better and the detail on the tower is much clearer. That shows what a difference to a photograph the time of day can make.

As we were about 2 weeks later on this visit some of the Rhododendrons were shedding their petals which was a shame in one way but also a benefit in that it produced a carpet of colour.

As we were walking along we spotted this little Tree Fern which was one of a number in the garden. There are lots of other plants in this garden besides Rhododendrons and Azaleas.

One of the reasons we came here again was the colour and it was here in profusion. You want colour? We can give you colour.

Amanda did like the mega-rhubarb which is properly called Giant or Elephant Rhubarb and that’s it on the left next to her.

This is it underneath showing a strange looking flower.

And finally showing how much taller it is than Amanda.

Some of those leaves were about 6 feet across but that pales into insignificance compared with other species that have leaves up to 12 feet across. Put that in a pie if you can.

Another interesting example of how conditions can change a view. On our first visit here I took this photograph of Swansea Bay from the high ground in Clyne Gardens which does look a little murky.

But on this trip the photograph from the same view point is obviously clearer.

This, of course, has nothing to do with the time of year but depends on the atmospheric conditions which can change at any time.

On our way back towards the exit we spotted this mega-tree. Well it would be hard to miss wouldn’t it? It appears to be a conifer but I can’t tell you which one.

And finally I looked in a mirror.

Well that was the end of our Clyne Gardens trip and we went back to our hotel briefly then walked to the waterfront for a cup of tea/coffee. We sat outside next to the Marina in the sun hoping that those seagulls wheeling overhead were not going to drop something on us that we would possibly find unpleasant. Luckily they didn’t.

Back to the hotel for dinner and thence to bed. In the morning we finish our repeat of an old trip and start something new.

Barry & Amanda go to Paradise

Barry & Amanda go to Paradise

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.

Rocks and Red

Rocks and Red

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.

The wet foot waterfall.

The wet foot waterfall.

When Marie, our friend from the U.S., came over on her annual trip to this country in early May I forgot to blog about it so when we revisited one of our previous venues today I decided to combine both visits into one post.

We revisited Hampton Court. If you are thinking of Hampton Court Palace in London then I should point out that it wasn’t that Hampton Court but if you are thinking of Hampton Court Castle in Herefordshire then, yes, it was that one.

We first visited Hampton Court Castle at the beginning of May this year and we were accompanied by Marie who was on her annual Great Britain trip. This time, in the middle of August, we were on our own.

This is the front of Hampton Court Castle and it is not a real castle but a stately home. It was, however, built in the 15th century.

Visitors see the house by guided tour only at set times. When we went here with Marie we didn’t go into the house but just toured the gardens.

This next picture, as you may guess, is the Library.

However, what you may not guess is that the part of the bookcase facing us in the corner is a secret door.

The section immediately to the left of the corner is the secret door. What gives it away is the little door handle on the right-hand edge just below centre and the fact that the ‘books’ are an amazingly good fit.

This next picture was on our first trip with Marie and you can see Amanda and Marie discussing what mischief they can get up to. This part of the Walled Garden is the first area reached after passing through the entrance.

The next two pictures show the Dutch Garden. The first picture is in early May when Marie was here, you can see both Amanda and Marie in the picture, and the second picture is on our recent trip in the middle of August when the potted plants have developed and was also taken slightly later in the day.

In another part of the garden, but still water related, are the Island Pavilions. The next picture shows one of the two pavilions seen from inside the other. The picture following shows the source of the water where the water bubbles up in the centre.

We next found ourselves in the Sunken Garden with its pool and waterfall. The path, from which the next photograph is taken, loops round to our left and up to the level of the wooden fence. The dark space behind the fence is the entrance to a large tunnel which goes underground to under the base of the Gothic Tower at the centre of the Yew Maze.

Having arrived at that wooden fence the aforementioned tunnel, shown in the second picture, is on our immediate left. On our first visit with Marie we groped our way through the completely dark passage to the far end but this time I used the torch facility on my smartphone and the photograph was taken using flash.

I don’t know how but we completely missed the other passage. Looking at the picture above the photograph of the tunnel you will see a small, narrow, dark opening at the end of the fence. That narrow passage drops a little, care required, and goes behind the waterfall as shown in the picture below.

There is quite a bit of splashing from the waterfall and I didn’t want to get my expensive camera wet so moving smartly was the order of the day. Unfortunately in the dim light I missed seeing the small puddle on the far side of the waterfall which turned out to be deeper than the thickness of the soles on my sandals. Result – one wet foot.

We did eventually arrive at the base of the Gothic Tower and climbed to the top.

The view from the top is quite good showing the ‘castle’ the island pavilions and a general overview of the walled garden.

Directly below us was the Yew Maze.

There was plenty of colour, although in our May visit a lot of the plants had yet to grow and in our August visit some of the borders were looking tired, and this gives a small sample of some of the flowers.

There is a lot to see here at different times of year so perhaps we may come again.