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Kington Kaleidoscope.

Kington Kaleidoscope.

We went to Hergest Croft Gardens again recently to see how the autumn colours were progressing and to say that we were blown away, if I might use the vernacular, would be an understatement. The colours were astonishing!

Having looked around the main gardens we walked across ‘The Park’ to ‘Park Wood’, both of which are parts of the Hergest Croft Estate, and we went as far as the Pond. I’ll leave you to be the judge of these scenes.

And now we see Amanda in a blue jacket and red trousers with matching tree.

Having walked on the path around the pond, and its upper valley, we were walking back towards the Pond when we saw this.

We haven’t seen anything like it before. It was a series of trunks arranged in a circle around a central trunk and the trunk material looked to be the consistency of cucumber; nothing like wood. The growth at the top of each trunk was something like feathery leaves. The trunks have obviously been deliberately cut back as part of some sort of maintenance. I’m hoping that someone from Hergest Croft will see this and tell us what it is.

( Hergest Croft later told us that it is a Gunnera i.e. Giant Rhubarb.)

Personally I think that it is a Triffid.

We then left Park Wood and walked back across The Park, which looked lovely in the sunshine, towards the main garden.

Having got back to the main garden we saw, on the ground, a lot of large leaves from a nearby vine of some sort and I have deliberately included my boot to give an idea of scale.

Well that was a thoroughly enjoyable and interesting visit. They haven’t seen the last of us yet!

Autumn’s Palette

Autumn’s Palette

Once upon a time there was a little seed which fell onto the soft earth. It felt quite at home there and decided to settle down. Over the years it was sustained by sun and rain and slowly grew.

Some years later we stumbled upon it.

Towards the end of September we visited Hergest Croft Gardens again which is where we found the Purple Beech and what a magnificent tree it is. We have one of those growing in front of the house and we keep it trimmed to prevent it from growing to that size and blocking all the light from the front of the house. I wish we had the space to let it grow.

This fruit is growing on a tree and I’ll give you one guess as to what the tree’s name is. You’re right – it’s a Strawberry Tree.

There were plenty of other trees bearing colourful fruit.

There are also a number of trees in Hergest Croft Gardens which have rather interesting bark.

There were also some impressive, large, fungi.

There are still flowers at this time of year as this Azalea shows. Quite a large colourful specimen.

Flowers are not the only source of colour as the leaves on the trees are starting to turn.

On this trip we saw, growing along both sides of this path, even more Naked Ladies than on our last visit.

This was a rather striking bush where the leaves were much more noticeable than its tiny white flowers.

There is so much to see here that we plan to make a number of return visits and, being in Kington, it is only a 30 minute drive from us.

Do you want to see any more of Hergest Croft Gardens?

Somewhere Else

Somewhere Else

Now that some of the Covid-19 restrictions in Wales have been relaxed we can go somewhere else – anywhere – so we did just that.

We headed 60 miles due west and found ourselves in Aberystwyth, Ceredigion. It took us about one hour and fortyfive minutes to do those 60 miles because most Welsh roads are anything but wide and straight. The last 10 miles was particularly wiggley but we got there.

We parked in a large car park on Park Avenue and were expecting to pay £1.70 for the day but all the pay machines were covered with large bags and there was no explanation so we ended up paying nothing.

We headed fo the sea front and soon after leaving the car park we walked past the Vale of Rheidol Railway Terminus which is a Heritage Steam Railway that runs to Devil’s Bridge. The last time we went to Devil’s Bridge we saw the other end of this line and took some photographs when a train arrived from Aberystwyth.

This time the terminus in Aberystwyth was closed with no signs of life anywhere so we continued past. Probably because of Covid-19. Pity really.

We headed for the harbour and were then planning to walk north along the sea front as far as the Funicular Railway at the far end of the bay. Where we parked was an obviously new area including a retail park but the buildings and streets suddenly changed when we reached the old part of the town.

This was one of the streets in the area of New Street and the hill in the distance could be Constitution Hill and the funicular railway runs up that.

It was a short walk further on to the harbour which includes the River Rheidol just before it runs into the sea. Both pictures are taken from the same viewpoint but in different directions.

A short walk from the harbour brought us to the sea front. This view is looking south and shows the wall at the entrance to the harbour.

Walking on South Marine Terrace along the sea front we passed these colourful houses and could see the castle in the distance.

Then an equally colourful plant bed.

A short way on we reached Aberystwyth Castle built by Edward I in 1289 but by 1343 the castle was in a bad state of repair. In 1649 Oliver Cromwell ordered the castle to be slighted, i.e. rendered unusable, hence its current condition.

We finally left the castle after having a really good look round and went back down to the sea front onto the New Promenade which was completed in the early 1900s.

On Constitution Hill in the distance, on the left of the next picture, there is a straight line visible running from the top to the bottom – this is the funicular railway of which more later.

In 1795 John Nash built the Old College buildings on the right, with George Jones as the architect, in Gothic style. It was later sold to the University of Wales who turned it into a college for higher education and it later became the University of Aberystwyth. It remained as the main part of the university until the 1960s when the university open a new campus near the National Library of Wales.

A short way on and we found two things – an ice cream kiosk and the pier. We had some ice cream, to help the local economy you understand, and had a look at the pier. It has to be said that this is the shortest seaside pier that we have ever seen. It does have amusements inside and a restaurant at the outer end which has a sun deck visible at the far end. We didn’t have time to visit the restaurant so we moved on.

When we reached this point along the sea front there was a turning off to the right which, having previously looked at the map, I knew led a short distance to the Tourist Information Centre. Having previous looked at some web sites which gave opening times I thought we’d pop in to see if there was anything we should visit that we might have missed. Needless to say it was closed with no signs of life. It was, however, a pleasant part of the town.

We went back to the seafront which has, as you can see, a rather fine beach. This beach runs all the way along the seafront promenade and has a greyish sand but sand nevertheless and there were plenty of people enjoying themselves.

We continued on towards the Funicular Railway passing some colourful, fine looking houses on the way.

We finally arrived at the bottom station of the funicular railway expecting it not to be running because of the current virus problems but it was so we decided to make use of it and take the easy way up.

We were asked to wear masks whilst on the ‘train’, which they supplied at a small charge, and the single fare was £7 for two.

We boarded the coach and, after a short time, it started to move. As with all funiculars there are two sets of rails and two coaches. When one coach is going up the other is coming down so that each coach acts as a counter-weight for the other.

This funicular is interesting in that the rails start up steeply then level off a little then go up an even steeper slope. When we reached the top I took a photograph from the station looking down.

You will be pleased to hear that there is a cafe at the top -we certainly were. They had a good selection of items on the menu including cake so we had to try some. We both had some cheesecake (very nice) and a cup of coffee each. The view from this level is really quite amazing.

The second picture was taken with a telephoto and is of the castle area with the war memorial on the right and parts of the castle showing on the left. You can also see the sundeck on the pier.

Once we had finished our cake and coffee we had to walk back down but just before we did that we had a look at the view north of Aberystwyth towards Clarach Bay. Beautiful.

This is the start of the footpath down but it isn’t that wide all the way.

We are almost at the bottom now.

On the way down we saw a number of wild flowers including Sea Campion, Thyme and Quaking Grass.

Finally back to sea level we now have to walk back to where we parked the car but we did pass through some more interesting parts of Aberystwyth.

We finally staggered back to the car and set off home but this time we are going home via the mountain road rather than the main road which brought us here.

We first go from Aberystwyth to Devil’s Bridge where we join the mountain road.

The next picture, which is just before we reach Rhayader, will be of particular interest to our friend Marie because she has been there. It shows one of the reservoirs in the Elan Valley and we brought Marie this way on that little road in the bottom right corner.

We reached home without incident although Amanda was feeling a little travel sick by this time. It took her about an hour to recover.

I wonder where we’ll go next time!

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.