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Dial-a-ferry

Dial-a-ferry

Six weeks ago to the day we were going to do this very trip but I had a heart attack instead so it had to be cancelled. However no heart attack this time so we left home to do the short drive (10 miles) to East Mersea. You have probably not heard of East Mersea which is not surprising as it is in the middle of nowhere and there is very little there except Salt Marsh, sand and water.

So why are we bothering? Well we don't intend to spend the day at East Mersea as we are going to call the foot ferry which will take us across the water to Brightlingsea. You've probably not heard of Brightlingsea either but never mind.

We parked our car and walked down the footpath to the river wall and this is the view from that river wall.

Across the other side of the River Colne is Brightlingsea. We need to get onto that sandy spit this side because that is where the foot ferry lands. We had, by this time, telephoned  from my mobile phone for the ferry to come over from Brightlingsea to pick us up. The ferry runs a scheduled service from the middle of July to the end of August but outside of those times there is a scheduled service at weekends and bank holidays but during the week it has to be requested by telephone. It's rather novel really and something we have not done before so we had to give it a try.

We reached the beach easily enough although some of it was hard work in the very soft dry sand. One step forwards, half a step back, but we got there. Having reached the pick-up point we could see, in the distance, the ferry making its way toward us.

As it got nearer we could see that there were passengers on board who were obviously coming to East Mersea.

The bow of the ferry grounds on the beach and a small ramp is lowered to afford easy access. That funny woman in the red coat is apparently keen to get on board.

Well she did get on board and so did I and off we set. Warm, sunny and calm – just right. On the way across the boatman and I were discussing our heart attacks, as you do, and in a fairly short time we were nearing Brightlingsea Harbour.

It wasn't long before we were moored at the end of the harbour pontoon and we set off along the pontoon to reach land.


The first rather obvious building we noticed is this one. It used to be the Anchor Hotel but has now been converted to appartments. Dating from around 1901 it is a listed building although only just over a hundred years old. A very attractive building.

A little further along the street is this Cinque Ports Wreck House built around 1811. Interestingly there is another building in Sydney Street in Brightlingsea which is labelled "Cinque Ports Wreck Warehouse". I haven't been able to discover why there are two similarly named buildings.

Having walked from the harbour area into the centre of the town we found Jacobes Hall, reputedly the oldest timber-framed building in England, built during the fourteenth century. The people that lived in this house paid for the church to be built so they must have been pretty wealthy.


 A little further along the same road was another timber-framed hall house.

We wanted to visit the parish church next but it was on the outer edge of the town, about 1.5 miles from the centre, so we decided to go by bus. Built around 1250 this church is not easily missed with a tower not far short of 100 feet high and most of the building covered in flushwork which is extraordinary. In the recent blog post "Following the Stones" I mentioned the flushwork on Hall Place but this church puts it to shame. We have not seen so much flushwork on one building.



There is an unusual feature inside the church in the form of memorial tiles in a strip all round the church. There is one for each parishioner who lost their life at sea – 213 in all.


At this point we realised that we were only about half a mile from the Thorrington Tide Mill, built around 1831, so we decided to walk there. We followed the footpath on the side of the road and soon found the mill entrance. The public have access to the mill only in the afternoon of the last Sunday of each month and also bank holidays so we weren't able to go inside but we did have a good look around the outside.


A tide mill works from a large mill pond, shown in the first of the two pictures above, which is filled at high tide then closed off. After the tide level has dropped the sluice can be opened to let the water back out via the water wheel, shown in the second photograph above, which then drives the mill. Clever eh? We would like to see inside so perhaps we'll have to try and arrange a re-visit when it's open.

We now crossed the road to the bus stop and got the bus back to Brightlingsea but got off one stop before the town centre. This takes us a little closer to Bateman's Tower which we were planning to see next and after a short walk there it was.

That sandy point across the water is where we started this trip from.

Built in 1883 by John Bateman the tower was used as a folly for his daughter to recuperate from consumption; however it may have been intended as a lighthouse as part of a failed plan to expand the port.

You may notice that the horizon in the picture is level but that the tower is leaning so it's not the photographer's fault. It is said that its foundations were laid on bundles of faggots (brushwood) so the fact that it leans shouldn't come as a surprise.

We walked back, on the little promenade, to the harbour where we asked to be taken back to East Mersey on the ferry and thence home.

 

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A Musical Soiree

A Musical Soiree

Pamela has been a very good friend of ours for many years and she has a birthday coming up which will mark yet another decade so she decided that a celebration was in order which she described as 'A musical soiree'. She lives in Bury St. Edmunds in Suffolk and plays the bassoon.

So it was that last Saturday we headed 50 miles north to Bury St. Edmunds first on the A12 then the A14. The A14 approaches Bury St. Edmunds from the east and about 7 miles east of Bury St. Edmunds is the small village of Woolpit where we decided to stop to have lunch and a look around.

Woolpit's history goes back at least two thousand years and this shows the centre of the village with some of the ancient, timber-framed buildings and the church tower showing over the top.

This is a closer view of the old village water pump shown on the left in the previous picture.

There were other rather nice buildings scattered around the village.

After our walk round we went into the Teacups Tearooms, the red building, in the next photograph, partly hidden by a silver car. They provide light lunches such as salads and sandwiches, which can be toasted, as well as tea, coffee and cold drinks.

Amanda had a savoury flan salad which she said was very nice and I had a toasted sandwich which I liked very much. We followed that with some cake which was delicious.

There were cars parked everywhere in the village today which may be partly due to it being the weekend when a lot of the residents will be at home and also because there was an art and crafts exhibition in the church. Under those circumstances it wasn't really worth me taking photographs inside as the interior was covered in stands of various types.

It didn't, however, stop me taking a few pictures outside.

Woolpit is a very small village with an extraordinarily large and impressive church with what must have been some very expensive features. Take the porch as an example.

That chequered pattern on the side wall is known as Flushwork and must have been expensive to create. Look at the numerous carvings and embellishments on the porch and the top of the tower. They wouldn't have been cheap. Just below the roof line there are small windows using flushwork again. Here is a closer look.

This money would probably have come from the very wealthy wool merchants which were prevalent in Suffolk during the medieval period. The roof inside was also exceptionally well decorated but we will have to make a return visit to photograph that.

Having had lunch Amanda decided that she would like to have a look around the art and crafts exhibition in the church and I decided to walk to Drinkstone to see if I could find the two windmills.

The walk entailed going down Rag Lane to the end, along a public footpath across some fields then along a country road. This is the veiw I had going across the fields.

Can you see the post mill on the right (without sails) and the smock mill on the left (also without sails)? I was obviously on the right track. Those black cows with a white band round their middle are Belted Galloways.

I was, eventually, able to get this close to the smock mill.

The post mill was further back on private property so the best I could do was this.

Not quite so good. It's a shame that neither mill has its sails. I started back for Woolpit and as I came back along Rag Lane I caught these two views.

We decided to head for Bury St. Edmunds but instead of taking the easy route along the A14 we chose to meander through the country lanes. As we were passing through Beyton we saw this church and so stopped.

We could see inside that it had obviously been renovated, probably in Victorian times, and decided that there was not much of interest. WRONG!

It turns out that, for example, although all the quire stalls look fairly modern some of them are actually medieval and some are modern reproductions. In the next photograph the stalls on the left are medieval and the one on the right is a Victorian reproduction. There is a noticable, although not marked, difference in colour.

We moved onward and stopped again in the village of Rougham. They also had a large imposing church although not quite of the same standard as Woolpit.

There was some noticable decoration around the top of the tower. That panel in the centre appears to be text but we couldn't read it. Latin perhaps?

We decided to move on to Bury St. Edmunds. Pamela was holding her soiree at the Manor House, Nowton Court on the outskirts of Bury St. Edmunds and we were also staying the night at the same place which was very convenient.

It turned out to be a lovely 19th century building in large grounds with some exceptional trees. It was also very quiet.

In the second picture above we had our breakfast the next day in the lower part of the two storey bay window on the right so that we were looking out into these grounds.

However back to today. We were shown to our room which was very nicely appointed, settled in and then went outside for a quick look round.

It'll do.

An hour or so later we went down the rather imposing staircase, which I suspect they had built especially for us, to join the reception.

There was champagne which I tried (it's a long time since I had any) and it confirmed my previous memory of it – I can't see why anyone would get excited about it.

After a lot of chatting we moved off to the function room. I should point out that Pamela, being a musician, has a lot of musician friends so she had arranged a group of her friends to form a small orchestra of about 20 instruments which was the musical part of the soiree. The main piece was a serenade by Brahms in five movements, which I hadn't heard before and was very nice indeed.

I was very interested, as I'd never sat quite so close to an orchestra before, to see how the musicians played each of their instruments. There were violas, cellos, a double bass, flutes, oboes, bassoons and french horns. Amanda and I both thought that it really was very good.

There was then a long break where we all descended on the buffet like a plague of locusts which we did very well. One thing about this place is that they do know how to produce good food.

By now some of the musicians had had to leave but there were enough left to form a 'wind' octet of pairs of flutes, oboes, bassoons and french horns. We were then treated to two short pieces the last of which was the Teddy Bears Picnic.

It was now about 11:00 PM and the Soiree had now ended so we went to our room and went to bed after a very, very enjoyable evening.

Next morning we had our breakfast looking out of the window onto the sunny lawn – super.

Our plans were that after breakfast we would set off for home going via Sudbury where we would stop to have a look round. By the time we'd arrived in Sudbury the sun had gone and we found that we were both feeling rather lethargic so we cut our visit short. We'll go again another time. I did take a few photographs as a taster.



The last picture is the Mill Theatre.

We'll take you another time.

 

England’s smallest and England’s oldest – Wednesday.

England’s smallest and England’s oldest – Wednesday.

Today we leave for home but we haven't finished yet as we can visit other places on the way. Remember yesterday we stopped to look at a distant view of Bradgate park and said that we'd be going there today? Well that's first on the list after breakfast.

Bradgate Park is only a few miles from Woodhouse Eaves so we were soon there. This publicly accessible open space is about twice the area of Beacon Hill Country Park, has views which are just as breathtaking and has those spiky outcrops of precambrian rock that you have grown to know and love so well.

We didn't really explore this area, other than looking around the top of the hill, as there is so much of it; another time perhaps. We set off again, travelling south, with the intention of calling in at Houghton Mill on our way past. We arrived at Houghton around lunch time and so had a snack in the National Trust Tea Rooms – not a bad spot at all.

The swan, on the bank in the next picture, and I didn't really hit it off.

He waddled up to me and looked me straight in the eye with an expression that said "Come on, where's the food then?". There wasn't any food. After a short pause he reached out and nibbled my shoes, decided they were not at all tasty, looked at me with contempt and gave a loud hiss of displeasure. Ah well you can't win 'em all.

We did, however, see a pair of Great Crested Grebes on the river.

At least they didn't take a dislike to me – they just ignored me. :bawl: We went home.

 

Taking the bull by the horns.

Taking the bull by the horns.

Yesterday, Tuesday, we had to go to Rayleigh, Essex and, as it was a sunny day, decided to include a little sightseeing and the obvious place to start was Rayleigh itself. The town was nothing special but it does have one of these:

 

 

A rather nice brick built tower mill with an interesting platform above the door which goes all the way round the outside. Unfortunately it doesn't work any more and the inside has been converted to a museum (not open when we were there). It's not very old either, having been built in the 1800s, making it no more than 200 years old.

 

Next to the windmill is what was once Rayleigh Castle. All that remains is the Motte and Bailey. The Motte is the large mound on which the keep would have been built, in this case during the 1100s, and would have been built using wood and so nothing now remains. It is surrounded by a defensive ditch and would originally have been enclosed by a wooden fence; the resultant enclosure being the Bailey.

 

There is a bit of a view to be had from the Motte but nothing terribly exciting.

 

 

After descending from the lofty heights of Rayleigh Castle we found our way to Dutch Cottage. The name stems from the 17th century Dutch immigrants who constructed many of the sea walls along the south Essex coast. The interesting thing is that above the door a date of 1621 is inscribed in the wooden frame. However 'experts' who have studied the building are convinced that it was built in the 1700s so take your pick.

 

 

Because it's so small it's hard to believe that someone lives there but they do.

 

That was about the limit of interest in Rayleigh so we travelled about five miles south to Hadleigh. This is Hadleigh in Essex and not to be confused with Hadleigh in Suffolk. It lies on the northern edge of the Thames and, like Rayleigh, doesn't boast much of interest but it does have some Norman castle ruins.

 

We parked in one of the suburban streets and planned to walk to the castle from there. This is how it looked from the start of the walk. You can just see a tower on the horizon near the centre of the picture.

 

 

It was quite a pleasant walk across the fields and, after climbing over a stile, we found ourselves sharing a field with cows. We started off across the field and then noticed a very large, very muscular cow with a funny looking udder and realised that we were looking at a bull. A farmer wouldn't put a bull in a field with a public footpath running through it unless he was sure that the bull wouldn't cause problems and we had also heard that bulls kept on their own, i.e. without cows, are the stroppy ones. That was the theory so we decided to 'take the bull by the horns', not literally you understand, and continue on our way. We passed within about twenty feet of the bull and he was really more interested in grazing than he was in us.

 

A little further along the path and I took this photograph of mother and daughter.

 

 

As we had been climbing on this last section of path we were begining to get some good views even though it was rather hazy.

 

As we approached the castle ruins we began to see the overall structure and the remains of the tower on the right really was leaning that much.

 

 

Looking back from this point we could see Leigh-on-Sea, where we had parked, and the River Thames albeit a rather hazy view. All those little white marks below the horizon are small boats left high and dry because the tide is out.

 

 

All we have to do later is walk all that way back to the car but for now – back to the castle.

 

The castle was built in the 1300s and this shows the best remaining tower with part of its internal structure visible. It is certainly a good vantage point for a defensive structure.

 

 

This picture shows that heavily leaning tower about to squash Amanda who seems quite unperturbed by that possibility.

 

 

This was the end of our sightseeing for the day and we'll leave you with this final picture where Amanda, the little figure on the left, had decided that sitting below the leaning tower wasn't such a good idea after all or was she just curious about what I was getting up to?

 

 

Oh, and yes, we did have to walk past that bull again but lived to tell the tale.
Yes and No

Yes and No

Back from our recent trip the answer to the question in the title of the previous posting is ‘Yes and No’.

We were lucky in that it was sunny but unlucky because it was uncomfortably hot and humid. We were lucky to visit Houghton, Hemingford Grey and Hemingford Abbots but St. Ives was a bit of a disappointment but I’ll start at the beginning.

Wednesday 1st July

We drove to Houghton which lies between Huntingdon and St. Ives in Huntingdonshire and we were there by 11:30 in the morning. We parked the car in the Three Horseshoes Inn’s car park and announced our arrival although we didn’t go up to our room.

We wanted to look round Houghton village before we set off on our planned walk because it’s a pretty village with attractive old buildings and chocolate box cottages. We rather liked this display of Hollyhocks which is on the other side of the village square from the Three Horseshoes. The village square is called “The Green” and although it may have been green at some time in the past it certainly isn’t now.

Opposite the Hollyhocks is what is known locally as the crooked house. You can just see some of the Hollyhocks on the extreme left of the picture peeping out from behind a house.

We wandered down Mill Lane (We were now starting the route of our planned walk) passing this chocolate box cottage on the way. It just had to have roses along the front didn’t it?

At the end of Mill Lane there is, wait for it, a mill. Owned by the National Trust it is still in working order and in a lovely setting. The water wheel must be one of the biggest, if not the biggest, we have ever seen. We have mentioned this mill briefly before on our way up to Stamford.

From the mill we followed the path across the River Great Ouse to Hemingford Abbots. Hemingford Abbots, like its neighbour Hemingford Grey, is a curious village. Very attractive and well kept with a number of old buildings but the old buildings are easily outnumbered by large, relatively modern and very expensive looking houses. Although we enjoyed looking at the designs of the modern houses we were more interested in the older style buildings.

That phrase ‘Chocolate Box’ springs to mind again – I don’t know why. We soon reached the centre of the village and this view of their pub, the Axe and Compass, with the church in the background.

As Hemingford Abbots and Hemingford Grey are virtually touching it wasn’t long before we were on the outskirts of Hemingford Grey.

It didn’t take long to reach the centre of the village which is where this next picture was taken and the suspicious looking person lurking in the shadows is, of course, Amanda. On a day like this lurking in the shadows is the best place to be – it was sweltering!

Both the Hemingfords are close to the River Great Ouse and our path took us alongside the river on our way to Hemingford Grey Meadow with St. Ives beyond.

We weren’t really looking forward to the next section which would involve crossing the rather large Hemingford Grey Meadow because we thought that there may be no shade in which to to shelter for some time. One of the churches in St. Ives can be seen on the other side of the meadow together with a few other buildings.

Luckily there was a small water channel, running down one side of the meadow, which was lined with shrubs and trees and we were able to spend short periods going through shade.

St. Ives is an old town but as we approached all we could see on the outskirts were modern buildings – not an old building in sight. We entered the town near the old bridge and having soon passed the modern additions we arrived at the waterside.

This picture was taken from the old bridge which is unusual in that it has a small chapel in the centre which you can see here on the right as we cross the bridge into the main part of the town.

There was a tea shop on the other side with a river terrace where we stopped for a much needed drink and from where I took this photograph of the 15th century bridge.

The area around the bridge and river is very nice but the rest of the town has nothing for the tourist. It’s not an unpleasant place but just little else of interest to see. We weren’t particularly pleased after walking all that way on a very hot and humid day especially as we now had to walk back but that’s the luck of the draw.

We arrived back at the inn in time for a short rest, a shower and then dinner. According to my pedometer we walked exactly 11 miles today.

Thursday 2nd July

After our St. Ives experience we decided to drive through Huntingdon first to assess the place and didn’t really see much there of interest either so drove on to Godmanchester. That didn’t hold our interest either so it was on to Plan B.

We pass close to Cambridge on our route to and from Houghton so we had thought that if we had time, which we now have, we might vist Anglesey Abbey. Now you may think that that would be a gargantuan detour but Anglesey Abbey is not on Anglesey in North Wales it is just a few miles north of Cambridge and is owned by the National Trust.

So it was that we arrived at Anglesey Abbey and gardens just as it was about to open at 10:30 AM. Walking through the gardens we had a bit of a surprise when we came upon this grove of trees.

Each one of those tree trunks is silvery white and the bark is quite hard and shiny. They are a form of Silver Birch which come from the Chinese side of the Himalaya. They gave a really ethereal atmosphere like something out of Alice in Wonderland.

A little further on we arrived at Lode Mill which is a rather cute little watermill and is now part of Anglesey Abbey grounds. We were going to have a look round the inside but the mill wasn’t open today because of a shortage of volunteers. The mill site is described in the Domesday Book although the building will have been replaced, possibly a number of times, since then.

From the mill we found our way to the Herbaceous Garden. Now that’s what I call a herbaceous border and it goes all the way round this large area. Keep that lot clear of weeds if you can.

After leaving the Herbaceous Garden we followed a not so obvious path and eventually stumbled upon the house. Even with a plan of the garden showing the paths it’s easy to get slightly lost in this place. Not a bad country cottage is it? Although the name of the property is Anglesey Abbey it is actually a country house.

Walking past the house, through the Rose Garden, we managed to find the Formal Garden where Amanda took this picture of me trying to run off with one of the stone vases. This may be a formal garden but dress is informal.

The gardens are very large covering around 114 acres most of which is parkland like this.

There is a lot that we didn’t see but Anglesey Abbey is only about an hours drive from us so we will probably return at different times of the year to see the changes.

That was the end of our current trip.

  • Like the curate’s egg it was good in parts.
  • Better luck next time
  • Can’t win ’em all.

You know the sort of thing. :mrgreen:

Blooming Marvellous!

Blooming Marvellous!

On Friday 29th May we heard that the weather was forecast to be warm and sunny for the next four days so we did what anyone would do under the circumstances; we booked to go to Lewes or, if you want to be pedantic, to Offham which is two miles from Lewes town centre.

We picked Offham because The Blacksmiths Arms had accomodation available and it's not easy to get accommodation in Lewes with its own parking without paying for very expensive hotels. There was also a bus into Lewes which stopped right outside the Blacksmiths Arms. So that was settled then and we were due to go on Sunday 31st May.

Sunday arrived warm and sunny. We left home about 10:00 AM and arrived in Offham at about 12:15 PM after a relatively stress free journey.

Sunday 31st May

After unpacking we immediately left again for Ditchling Beacon on the South Downs which was an easy 9 mile drive. There is a car park on top of Ditchling Beacon which was very handy and this is the view that greeted us when we got out of the car.

We were planning to walk along the ridge to see Jack and Jill and so we set off together with numerous other people. This was a sunny Sunday remember and everyone was out and about. Jack and Jill must be along there somewhere.

After a very picturesque walk in the sunshine of some two miles or so we caught our first glimpse of Jack.

Jack as you can see is a tower mill. Very soon after seeing Jack we arrived at Jill which you can see is a post mill.

Jill was actually working, although you can't see that in the still photographs, and occasionally the little vane on wheels would start to rotate as the direction of the wind changed and the wheels would start to move along their track keeping the mill pointed into the wind.

We went inside right up to the top floor where we could feel the mill swaying. It is after all a whole building pivoting on a single post so there is bound to be some movement.

Here are Jack and Jill together with the moon showing above Jack (the black mill).

We shall leave you with this view from the windmills showing Ditchling village at the bottom of the hill.

As a matter of interest that white blob in the distance is yet another post mill. We now have another two miles to walk back to the car but we do get a second look at all that lovely scenery on the way. Along part of the ridge we could see the sea and part of Brighton and a small patch of white chalk cliff further east. Back to the hotel at the end of the day but will the weather last?

Monday 1st June.

Today is another sunny day and after breakfast we catch the bus outside the Blacksmiths Arms arriving in Lewes High Street about ten minutes later.

Our trip to Lewes, as with the other places, will all appear on the main web site in detail sometime later so I'm only going to give a brief account here.

A little way from where we got off the bus is the medieval castle entrance in the High Street. It had been closed the whole of the winter for maintenance and was still closed so we couldn't go inside. It apparently opened later in the week that we were there but we were too early. It looks moderately impressive but nowhere near as impressive as Bodiam or Conwy.

This is the view through the Barbican Gatehouse.

What's left of the Keep stands on a separate mound within the castle boundary and I believe visitors can go up both the Barbican Tower and the Keep.

After looking around the outside of the castle we arrived back in High Street and spotted an old timber-framed building which we went to look at. It turned out to be on the corner of Keere Street which is one of those quaint, steep and narrow cobbled streets – rather picturesque.

We had to walk down Keere Street, of course, and found ourselves by Southover Grange Gardens – a beautiful little oasis in the middle of the town. As we were now at the bottom of the hill we made our way to Anne of Cleeves House which is another fine old timber-framed building which is open to the public but we didn't go in.

A little further is the ruined Lewes Priory.

You can see how lumpy it is around here from the view of the hills in the background.

We went from the Priory back towards the lower part of the town centre by the river. One thing I will say for Lewes is that it has a lot of nice places to eat. We spotted Chapel Lane which gives access to a footpath up onto the Downs but more of that later and we also saw English's Passage which is supposed to be one of the narrowest Twittens in the country and there are houses along both sides.

We were both getting tired by this time but I was determined to get up onto the Downs so Amanda decided to potter round the shops whilst I did the heroic climb. I set off for Chapel Lane which is pretty steep and found the public footpath going up onto the downs. I set off up the path but crikey, puff, wheeze, hang on a minute, gasp – now that WAS steep. After numerous rests the path became, thankfully, less steep and after about one and a half miles I took this picture.

Lewes is somewhere down there in the valley. I managed another half mile and decided I didn't have time, or the energy, to continue so I went back into Lewes and met up with Amanda again. I had walked just over 10 miles in Lewes today. It was now getting late in the day so we decided to get the bus back to the Blacksmiths Arms. We will see what the weather brings tomorrow.

Tuesday 2nd June.

Another fine sunny day so we put Plan 'A' into action which was to travel the short distance north to a place called Sheffield Park. We chose that for two reasons. It was one end of the Bluebell Line, a heritage steam railway, and it was home to the National Trust's Sheffield Park Garden.

The Bluebell Line was a few hundred yards nearer than the gardens so we stopped there first and we were in luck as there was a steam train in the station waiting to go. We weren't going for a ride as that would take too much time but we were hoping to see one.

After the train had gone we had a look in the engine shed. It was a very large shed packed with locomotives on three lines and standing next to some of these on the same level as the bottom of their wheels they looked gigantic! In the yard behind the shed were other numerous locomotives of which these rather cute tank engines were just two.

So now on to our main reason for this trip – Sheffield Park Gardens. This garden, at this time of year, was a revelation and we thought it to be the best garden of its kind that we had yet seen. A detailed report will appear on the web site sometime so I'll give just a flavour of what we saw here.

What a riot of colour and not just the flowers. There were even red, green, grey and yellow foliage on the trees. This garden was indeed blooming marvellous. Needless to say we spend most of the day here and finally went back to our accommodation tired but happy. More good weather tomorrow (the day we leave for home)?

Wednesday 3rd June.

Yet another warm sunny morning but today we go home. However before we do that we decide to go to Devil's Dyke which would also allow Amanda to call in on a plant nursery nearby that specialises in Pinks for some particular varieties that she wants.

Devil's Dyke is a well known beauty spot but shouldn't be too crowded mid-week in early june and that proved to be the case. There is a road up the hill and a car park on top which is fortuitous as we both feel somewhat knackered after the exertions of the last few days.

This is what we saw when we got out of the car.

That view does not include the actual dyke itself but this next view does. The dyke is the deep valley seen from the top looking down. Dyke is another term for ditch and it is said that this 'ditch' was created by the devil.

This view is from the bottom looking up.

So we did that and now it's time to go to the nursery for Amanda to buy her plants. Then we head home. The interesting thing is that after we'd left the nursery around lunchtime it started to cloud up and within an hour there was no blue sky to be seen. How's that for timing?

A rather good trip and wonderful weather.

P.S. By Friday it was too cold for a short sleeve shirt and even with a long sleeve shirt another layer was required to be comfortable. That's English weather for you. :???:

The Chilterns: A beacon in an ancient landscape – Day 1

The Chilterns: A beacon in an ancient landscape – Day 1

The view from the top of Ivinghoe Beacon wasn’t as good as it could have been. We had just walked a short stretch of The Ridgeway, an ancient path that goes back to Avebury times, having arrived at our hotel just an hour previously after an uneventful drive of about an hour and a half.

But back to the view. It was a balmy spring day but there was quite a thick haze which prevented us seeing very far.

We had started from a car park down by the road from Aldbury and walked the one and a half miles to the top of the beacon.

This is where our walk started showing The Ridgeway stretching out in front and Amanda making her way along the path.

The Ridgeway starts from Avebury, Wiltshire and finishes on the top of Ivinghoe Beacon here in Buckinghamshire. The high ground on the left is the top of Ivinghoe Beacon.

Finally, with much puffing and blowing after a winter of sitting around and generally getting unfit, we arrive at the top. You can see how murky the view looked which was a pity as on a clear day it must be fantastic.

Amanda’s foot behaved much better than we thought it would and gave her no trouble at all. Looks promising.

After coming down from Ivinghoe Beacon we drove the very short distance to the village of Ivinghoe from which the beacon gets its name. First stop was Pitstone Windmill on the outskirts of the village and is the oldest windmill in the county

You should be able to see, to the left of the mill, the tower and spire of Ivinghoe Church and here is that same church close up.

We stopped, on the way back to our hotel, in Aldbury. An attractive little village sitting at the foot of the high ridge of which Ivinghoe Beacon is just a part in the area known as the Chilterns.

After that it was back to our hotel after our first half-day until tomorrow.