Monday, 24 June 2013

Summer nights

The blue tits have flown. Sounds like James I 's comment on the Houses of Parliament.....

I love living in the North where the evenings are light till 11p.m. - to be truthful, nights don't really get completely dark in June; but the Solstice is past on June 21st , our longest day, so now the days will start slowly to get shorter.

 I was settling in some new plants yesterday evening- I heaved the watering can over the Michaelmas daisies to water in another sedum (after more autumn colour!) when something came at me from under the choiysia- after recovering from fright and the excitement of thinking my hedgehogs were back and loving my hodgepod.... I spotted a fluffed up, blackbird fledgling. With an apology for giving her a fright, I beat a hasty retreat and kept an eye open for the malevolent white cat which marauds in from over the street.

Eeh! The Ladies have had such fun - simple pleasures! We played crazy (Crazy was definitely the description!) golf in Tynemouth amid dinosaurs and pterodactyls; we admit to having to wield nets to fish our golfballs out of the water (not quite the North Sea but almost). I recommend the food in the little cafe- tasty and reasonably priced too.

To go back to the garden, it has looked real 'cottage garden' as the borders have been filled with columbine of every shade of pink/purple.

The carmine red paeonies have gone over but the pink ( a gift from M) buds have yet to open. Everyone is commenting on the vibrant, huge poppies which have burst open; the violent thunderstorms of Sunday have weighed heavy on the massive flowers so I think I need a supporting frame for next year.

The shades in the garden made me realise just how much my vocabulary of shades of colours have deteriorated.... Remember the paintboxes we used to have with the names of all the shades and hues of each colour? Red was not just red but .......
dark pink
fire engine red

persian red

terra cotta
 and so on.....

Ceanothus buzzing blue... bees move on to crawl out of weigela (a pink and a magenta?)

then fly around me threateningly as I fill at the water butt- close to a clematis plastered in enormous flowers.

I have filled the troughs with geraniums and the hanging baskets (on a north facing wall only receiving sun in the late afternoon/evening) with begonias but as yet all the yellow and orange pansies are still flowering so I am loathe to take the baskets down and discard their contents.

We reckon this year's wet Spring has caused fields bright with masses of buttercups like we have never seen before. Our Welsh poppies fill tucked away corners.

I am wading my way through Hilary Mantel's 'Wolf Hall'; a magnificent tome about Thomas Cromwell- I can see why it won... was it the Booker Prize?

I think I may head downstairs and indulge myself in a piece of birthday cake- the gang have been for the day, D2 caught up on sleep (while M stood outside with birthday cake waiting for secret rescue) and retreated south again!

I'm off to see how Thomas is managing to keep Wolsey in Henry VIII's favour..... The problem is- I know what happens!

Monday, 17 June 2013

Lord Armstrong's Cragside

Normally we go to Cragside somewhere between May half term and June 10th and sometimes we get it spot on right and other times we are too early or too late.

Now is the time to go! H1 and I went last Friday; if you leave it much later the glorious azaleas and rhododendrons will have gone over and died back.

We were lucky; being a weekday there weren't too many visitors so we could stroll around at our leisure. Even the top playarea was empty.

It is a National Trust property and though it 'belongs to the nation' it is very expensive to get in- about £12+ for an adult to access the  gardens and about £15+ to get into the house and gardens.

Lord Armstrong was a lawyer/ engineer and entrepreneur; William was married to Margaret and together they created Cragside from a wilderness near Rothbury in North Northumberland. He was part of a group including Joseph Swan - and the incandescent light bulb was first used here to light up this house. Lord Armstrong built a lake (Nelly's Moss) to power his hydroelectricity plans- so this was also the first domestic house in the world to be lit by hydroelectricity. He tried to make the house easy to run- with lifts etc for 'domestic freight' like serving dishes, coal for fires etc. He made his money through hydraulic cranes etc down on the Tyne then world wide- then through armaments.

If you have crossed the swing bridge across the Tyne in Newcastle, you have used one of Armstrong's projects.

Currently, celebrating 150 years at Cragside, there are 4 pieces of 'Building Dreams' art works around the hillside and lake.

We researched the house to find two of the art pieces wherein 'lightning struck.... and roses were electroplated'.
I like the statue which has always been on the hall stairs; it demonstrated  Lord Armstrong's stand against slavery.

I confess to always buying plants there- and having a mooch round the National Trust shop.

We drove through banks and banks of sweet smelling azaleas and colourful rhododendrons- it is a very narrow, one way road up to the top Lakes.
What could be lovelier than an English summer's day walking round Nellie's Moss amid broom and gorse buzzing with bees?

The perfume from the azaleas is heady, almost cloying in the summer warmth.

Time passes- counting the rings H1 decided 45 years had passed for this tree before it was felled.

Seasons are changing.... it is almost our longest day- June 21st..... the Summer Solstice.... then days start getting shorter again

Blossom falls
Dandelion clocks blow away time in the hands of children

Our footsteps crunched across last year's autumn debris

Go now but avoid the turn off to Brinkburn Priory as the bridge beyond is under repair so you won't make it to Cragside!

Go now- that sounds like a Moody Blues song from the 60s.
Go on- go now

Sunday, 16 June 2013

looking back to Howick again

I have been doing so much I didn't get to show you Howick's multitude of narcissi varieties.

Some of the flowers are scented casting a fragrance across the whole dell.

Around the ha-ha is a field of mixed bulbs.

while these white blooms danced in the breeze.

At the top end of Howick gardens is yet another ha-ha thankfully keeping a very large bull and cows on the other side. These shorter daffodils danced in the wind as they were on higher land and more exposed. I did try to video them- but now I don't know whether to open things up technically to put the video on here. There seems to be so much rubbish coming through on private Facebook accounts and email inboxes that I am tempted to stay with the basics.

The tulip lawn looks beautiful but the photo needs clicking on to see the individual tulips poking skywards.

The woods were carpeted with primroses, violets

and early bluebells.

Banks are covered in all sorts of undergrowth containing drifts of forget-me nots and the first campion.

I have a camera full of photos of places I have been of late- and I am too fed up to download them onto this PC and upload them onto my blog. I reckon you can probably recognise by the uninspired mode wof writing just how much my world has imploded today after 2 years of being o.k. I have lost my mojo.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Flaming June

O.K. It is my fault if the temperature plummets or it rains; I have stripped every bed in the house of everything, washed the lot- and dried it all outside. I am one of those old fashioned people ( my mother's advice and I still think it holds good) who puts woollen blankets on the mattresses of beds; I reckon it stops any draught coming through from below particularly from under divans; a hip tip! prevents the joint aching that wakes you in the middle of a winter's night). Yes I do have the obligatory mattress covers and valances- and on our bed because I am a delicate little flower, we have a memory foam layer too- I sound like the Princess who could feel the pea below umpteen mattresses! Anyway I grasped the nettle- come on- it is June! In trepidation I removed the 9 tog duvet and replaced it with the 4.5. That makes it sound so easy!
I dislike the whole business of decisionmaking on when and if! If it were done, it were best it were done quickly- and it has been. We moved the furniture to get at the drawers under beds which contain the bedding for the opposite season; we stripped beds and rolled the out of season replacement drawer contents while the washer chugged, the line was draped in wool blankets, mattress covers, valances, sheets, duvet covers, pillow slips..... but it was worth it to crawl into lightweight, fresh, cool, cotton sheets.

The sun has been warm though air temperature was still a little on the chilly side for June. Nevertheless everything was dry in a short space of time and everything is shipshape and Bristol fashion.
Considering the lack of time for domestic duties this last few weeks, even the garden is looking a tad more sorted. There I was, bum in the air, a vision in the borders, weeding feverishly while above my head the blue tits were agitatededly trying to chirrup me away from the nesting box fixed to the silver birch.

I have lots of thoughts of subjects I intend to blog but I never get to the study to type as we have been so busy. Yesterday we went up to Tweedmouth (yes on the south bank of the River Tweed opposite Berwick) to a gallery showing of a friend's art work. It was a canny shank but worth it- Andrew Watchorn's work is now on public opening so if you are up that way get yourself to the Berwick WatchTower- this bricked up, castle like building was apparently the most northern 'Kingdom Hall' for the Jehovah's Witnesses' and is now a privately owned, lovely gallery.

Right I am going to do my exercises- my neck still reflects a car accident of 2 years ago when D3 and I were looking to buy teatowels- honestly - I ask you- do I live a mundane life?!!
Oh and I am currently (not currantly!) making a double batch of cheese scones to take to a 'casual light lunch'. Better go check they have not gone the way of my (reputed to be always over done) pizzas- Well- can I help it if I am so busy I am doing half a dozen things at once? I defy any man to multitask the way I do.