Monday, 30 May 2011

Here, there and everywhere

Durham- Land of the Prince Bishops- is a magnificent city. The meander of the river Wear houses the cathedral and across the Green from the sanctuary knocker on the Cathedral door lies Durham Castle; what a defensive site!

Durham's collegiate University occupies the Castle on the neck of the meander- which is probably how the Scottish army were kept securely imprisoned in the ecclesiastical stronghold- check out the fire marks on the cathedral floor! That is what they got for siding with Cromwell's Parliamentarians against the King!

We walked through the cloister which was 'snowed in' so Harry Potter & friends could attend lessons at Hogwarts in winter.

Out the back is another green with an old, tower bakery and lots of symmetrically built, Georgian houses. Such a shame that many Georgian multi fenstrated houses had to fill their windows in to avoid the 'daylight robbery' of the Window Tax.

Round the corner lie the monastic alms houses near the renowned Durham choir school.

Cut through a ginnel (tiny arched alleyway-we still speak Anglo Saxon and Viking up here!) and along past the city walls;

cross Prebends Bridge to look back at the river and the spires of the Cathedral above the treetops; listen out for the splash of students' skulling- preparing for the Durham Regatta.

One of the spires was replaced but the original has been resurrected as a monument on the bank. The ancient churchyard site above leads on to more monastic lands and a superb tythe barn (up near the prison!)

Ooh! Before I forget- I recommend to you a visit to the Hearth- a craft centre (& tearoom of course!)in Horsley; try the pea and ham broth! We went to the Hearth again for an evening at the Hexham Gathering- so much musical folk talent- and the cloggy was brilliant; I have a notion to try learning clogging- it's like hard shoe Irish dancing and infectious. Do I have to admit that for tea we had the best wrap there I have ever had?!
I need my beauty sleep so Good Night all.


Everything in the garden is not rosy but the borders are certainly full- everything has burst into flower. Aubretia and saxifrage are over; please don't laugh at my attempts at an alpine garden- this recently planted sink housed D3's pumpkin plant last year so it is a productive micro garden! I have harped on for eons- well since losing the tiny drop down onto the patio- for a curtain of pink 'Tumbling Ted' and aubretia again so here it is in its infancy....

Being a largely shaded garden there are geraniums of all varieties and colours.

The paeonies are drooping with heavy, blushing scarlet heads.

Fences are abuzz courtesy of pyracantha which I had not realised the bees seem to love.

Chelsea Flower Show (press your red button- I didn't know we had one!I am such a technosaur) is pushing the need for pollinators- Huh! D3, Rainbow K and I all recognised this a LONG time ago- what kept you Alan Titchmarsh? There is to be a new symbol put on bee-loving plants for sale in marketgardens so do buy some for your patch on God's earth- imagine what would happen to our food supplies if all the buzzy bees died!

We also have purpled Granny's Bonnets (aquilegia or more usually known as columbine) by the score; in front of the laurel hedge I have successfully grown a couple of varieties of iris- a yellow-brownish bearded one and a group of flags erupted bearing blue flowers- blue seems a more appropriate colour for an iris somehow.

To match the bonnets I have Ladies Mantle- alchemilla is a bit blandly green but is good for use in a flower display when you have refreshed & thrown out some of the cut flowers but want to give the last few heads a few more vase days.

In a spot where nothing grows I have planted a number of things apparently to no avail but...... my domestic trek through our abode to dump hand dishwashing water has not been wasted! My clematis is wonderful if I say it myself! Purples and blues don't seem to photograph to their true blue on my diddy camera but no one can ask more of you than one does one's best.

The smaller flowered ceanothus has survived the brown burn of winter cold whereas I have had to saw down the large more treelike ceanothus which got hit two bad winters running and didn't make it!

Though badly frosted and delayed by the snow, the weigela has started to flower too.

The welsh poppies are going to be accompanied by the big red poppies which are wrongly placed at the front of the border where they are too tall for the Chelsea style 'banking' effect!!!!!!!! as if you really believed I planned it! I thought the Chelsea garden for the British Heart Foundation was memorable and effective.

We went with the Newcastle and Northumberland bunch to St James Church on Condercum Road in the west end (Benwell) of Newcastle; Richard Grainger, builder, with John Dobson, of much of central Newcastle, is buried in this graveyard. (Sir John Betjeman thought Grey Street the most beautiful street in the world).

The church needs much restoration but is architecturally very valuable and is connected to so many famous names eg Shafto, Riddell, Scot (as in Scotswood), Buddle and the childrens' tv programme 'Byker Grove!

Friday, 27 May 2011

Twittering? Get a life

I don't know how much time I have to blog today. I suppose blogging is as bad as Facebooking constantly -or twittering all the time- on your mobile........

Throwing a cat among the pigeons I have to say I am fed up hearing about injunctions and super injunctions! Will footballers, politicians, bank CEOs and others who think they have 'celebrity' status (but have picked up money from the public) stop bleating about their private lives/affairs etc; if you take cash from the public, are a role model to children, or are part of the somewhat peabrained group who think they have 'image', then realise your celeb status and money cannot buy you out of morality; people who want their children protected should take some personal responsibility themselves and keep their anatomical bits in their trousers.

Do you like margarine or butter? The grass verges are full of buttercups to stick under chins to check out whether the bearer of the chin is telling the truth!!!! Remember when we all used to do that?

My beautiful red, white and blue bouquet for working on the Eurovision party food is still looking great!

Saturday, 21 May 2011

What time is it, Mr Wolf?

Woodland and vale are flower-filled.

The hawthorn is laden with may blossom; this and the forgetmenots seem to have lasted for so long- they must have liked our long, dry period of weather in April & May.

I don't really know the difference between Ramson's garlic and wild garlic but they are both going over now ; dandelions are clocking to tell the time with every childish puff.

Old Man's Baccy laces the verges too

At Humford Mill the stones are stepping over a low River Blyth. In Bedlington's Woods bluebells dance in the shadow of the last tree to leaf -the ashtree so graceful........

In meadow clearings along our path pink campion vied for sunlight below bright, coconut fragranced broom.

Between Riverside Park, Hexham and Warden we walked along the banks of the Tyne

to the meeting of the waters and the Boatside Inn.

In gardens alongside the track, owners have thrown Welsh poppy seeds which now thrive among centaurea and aquilegia (columbine). I was surprised at how early the roses are in bloom.

The last few lambs of the year are still finding their feet at St Oswald's farm at Heavenfield.

Walking from Wallington we climbed to Rothley Castle;

spongy sphagnum squelched and cottontailed eriophorum blew us up to the folly (built by the Blacketts- or was it by the teetotal Trevelyans?)

and bluebells rang us down to Rothley Mill and back through Wallington's beautiful walled garden to the Clocktower coffee and cake!

What a beautiful month!

Rip Van Winkle

Have you ever tossed and turned next to a throat-popping mound of duvet ,wondering whether or not to get up to go to the loo or stay in bed?
You reason with yourself.....
'If I get up I'll wake the whole house.... I'll be wide awake...... do I flush it if I go?'
'If I don't head for the bathroom I'll not get to sleep anyway because I'll be aware I need to go to the toilet'
... so you lie there cogitating.
In summer the light sky (in the north it does not get really dark at all during the night) adds to the likelihood of wakefulness; in winter the 'healthy' cold of a bedroom definitely makes it an openeyed scuttle to the ensuite.

In your head you discuss the health issues related to why you need to go to the toilet in the middle of the night- prostate trouble? prolapse? bladder infection? the joys of getting older?

Finally you get up and go......!

Mixed in with all these dozy thoughts are insistent, random niggles related to yesterday and tomorrow....
'Was Nancy Bordello's really a brothel?'
'It is in the right location in bygone days'
'My ears are still ringing from the Buble singalike'
'Why are carpet edges black?'
'How do we stop it happening again?'

Meanwhile whistling Harry snores through it all whilst breathing openmouthed, wet and noisily on the edge of the duvet; his stubble rasps on the percale cotton, ensuring a hunt to replace the bobbled cover will have to happen sooner than I would wish.

Eventually teethgrinding Aurora stretches himself out, refreshed after 'sleeping like a log'.... doors bang.... the kettle is filled.... water courses through the pipes..... the radio goes on fullbelt.......your eyes open.... the Weetabix existence begins.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Visitors and Eurovision

The echoes of a hectic, few weeks lie around the house......

Dishes filled with the remains of lasagne, homecooked ham, quiche, apple tart, a Bero milk chocolate cake, banoffee will keep us going all this week....... and the ham stock will provide the base for a broth tonight to freeze.

Grey skies overshadow the piles of towels, sheets, duvet covers lying on the landing.

We have enjoyed taking a guest to

the Sage Concert Hall (on the south side of the river!)

the Baltic Art Gallery- with exhibitions and views over the Tyne.

and for a glass at the Pitcher and Piano- (not the best watering hole but has a good view through glass walls onto the river)- we saw the Millennium Bridge (nicknamed the 'Blinking Eye')swing up to allow a pleasure boat go upstream.

We exerted ourselves over 8+ miles from/to Wheelbirks ice cream tearooms via Minsteracres.

We revealed the 'Secret Kingdom' via the coast and some of the Northumbrian Castles eg Warkworth Castle;

Craster (with crab sandwiches)was drifted in oak flavoured smoke from the kipper houses; Dunstanburgh Castle glowered down from overcast skies and wrapped us in a chilly wind but we avoided rain.

The Ship Inn Seahouses still gives visitors refreshment and atmosphere while our (B&I - H1 was 'resting his eyelids' in the car) stroll on the sands below Bamburgh Castle set up a discussion on the location for films.

We walked along Hadrian's Wall from Steel Rigg above Crag Lough to Sycamore Gap but Kevin Costner eluded us.....

'Vera' used 'our' cottage at Redpath in Cambo Forest this week. Oh! that was a bitterly cold experience all those years ago!

Our 'Embassy' filled with overnight/evening visitors dressed in every hue of Blue to support the British entry; needless to say political voting meant UK did not win Eurovision (again!) but we had a wonderful, singalong time thanks to D3.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Aaagh! Me apple!

The May Day Bank Holiday was characterised by driving north while loads of caravans journeyed south; to our surprise the Breamish valley seemed to be occupied by lots of chava families; unusual to find anyone there at all; normally we dam the river all on our own!

In Ingram village we stopped for some research (really for a Magnum!);Ingram church is lovely and greeted us with the heavy perfume of lilies; gravestones reminded us of names which are timeless........

After playing Poohsticks on Linhope bridge, we strode in sunshine and cold air up to Linhope Spout; please tell me why people take their dogs to beautiful picnic sites in countryside or beach- then don't clean up after their pets? Ugh! Vile!

The waterside meadow was scarred by barbeque burns scorched black into the grass.

We picnicked at the top of the waterfall.... only to hear the cry from my 'photographer 2' (my camera battery died so D3's mob took over)..... 'aagh! Me apple' which rolled out of a plastic bag and into the river and over the top of the Spout never to be seen again.....even in the plunge pool below.... so if you are ever in Berwick upon Tweed and an apple floats past in the Tweed- it is ours!

Oooh! I am excited! A parcel was delivered today- a thank you present- an eco friendly gift requisitioned from the Eden Project- a bee log..... so where to hang it? I should have the most wonderful pollinators abounding in my garden.

and a RAG balloon has been found in the Czech Republic- that is further away than Berlin!

The dicentra (bleeding heart) is waning as is my false quince and lilac; daisies grace every lawn; the beech is unfurling its leaves.