Back in 2015 I used to participate in a monthly photo challenge “The Changing Seasons” then hosted by the Cardinal. The idea was to capture all the changes: the seasons, the weather, different times of the day, some night photography perhaps? I decided to take the same route around my town of Ludlow to record the changes.
Midsummer: Why midsummer? Here in the northern hemisphere summer has only just begun (1 June according to meteorological terms, 21 June in astronomical) so midsummer should surely be mid to late July? However, it actually refers to the summer solstice and is regarded as a very important holiday in the Scandinavian countries – 24 June this year in case you are interested. [26 June in 2021]
Tourists have arrived now in their hundreds. Usually during this month the Ludlow Arts Festival is held, but due to economic reasons there isn’t one this year, a shame as I always enjoy the outdoor Shakespearian play. However there is a Fringe Festival so all sorts of odd things are going on around town.
The lime trees are fully in leaf now and you will notice that the benches are quite crowded today.
We’re going on a slightly different ‘walk’ today as it is the Secret Gardens opening and, as many of you will already know, I crave a garden so how can I resist a nosey into the backyards of my fellow Ludlovians? You may recognise parts of previous posts as the route covered some of the same ground, just not around the river.
Just Back From… the Cotswolds was written in June 2013 after a lovely spring break to celebrate the OH’s birthday. Spring was a little late that year.
When you think of the Cotswolds it is the warm honey-coloured limestone and cute thatched cottages inviting romance and tranquillity that spring to mind and where market towns (formerly centres of the wool trade) have wide squares and streets and are the centres of activity. Brooks and rivers bridged by tiny stone arches meander through the hidden villages in the rolling hills and farmland where country pubs have flagstone floors, beamed ceilings and inglenook fireplaces with log fires.
You may also think about crowds of tourists and visitors up from London for the day, often on large touring coaches; ancient churches and manor houses; picture-book tea-rooms; expensive antique, retro and vintage shops. You’d be right about all of these things, but there is another side to the Cotswolds to be explored if you look.
The Cotswolds district is mainly in the counties of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire with parts of Warwickshire, Wiltshire, Worcestershire and Somerset at the edge. It is an area filled with hundreds of small towns and villages that don’t appear on the calendars and book covers or hog the limelight, but are equally attractive. Discover them by driving along the plethora of narrow, winding roads which often provide the most amazing views over the Wolds and the valleys. There are public footpaths, national trails and bridleways galore. Find yourself in a charming and unspoilt village away from the main tourist spots and walk around listening to the birdsong and admiring the chocolate box cottages and striking parish church. In the late spring sunshine, with so many shades of green it is impossible to count, you may stumble across a woodland carpeted with bluebells.
In the north of the region take a romantic circular drive from Moreton-in-Marsh to Stow-on-the-Wold stopping at Broadway Tower and Country Park for a picnic with a view, Broadway village with its wide main street, Snowshill Manor with its collection by the eccentric Charles Paget Wade, Snowshill Lavender farm in the summer, and Hailes Cistercian Abbey ruins, a most peaceful spot on the Cotswolds Way. Continue through Guiting Power with the ‘Hollow Bottom Inn’ and the picturesque Lower Slaughter with the tiny River Eye running through it.
There are dozens of lovely homes and gardens for you to visit, some owned by the National Trust, others in private ownership. Some are large estates such as Sezincote or Hidcote and attract the coach parties, others are smaller and often quieter. All are worth a visit.
The Cotswolds is a vast region and requires several days to explore it thoroughly. We only touched on a small part in four days; there is a lot more to discover.
This post is a contribution to Fandango’s Flashback Friday. Have you got a post you wrote in the past on this particular day? The world might be glad to see it – either for the first time – or again if they’re long-time loyal readers.
The Priors Halton Loop was a walk for Restless Jo in 2014 when I was living in Ludlow, South Shropshire.
With the recent good weather I have been trying to get out for a daily walk. Last Sunday we set off towards Priors Halton farm, about a mile or so outside of Ludlow. It is one of the few flattish walks around here, as Ludlow is surrounded by hills.
Most walks in and around Ludlow begin with crossing a bridge. This time Dinham, with a glance at ‘Ludlow Beach’, as locals name the area on the Teme where it is often safe to paddle. Repairs are being made to the weir (including a by-pass to allow salmon moving 50 miles upstream to spawn an easier way through the river ) has meant changes to the ‘beach’ too. And today there are many more youths than usual. It is a hot day, though they are a bit big to swim in the extremely shallow waters – amazing to think how high the water level was only a couple of months ago.
Instead of heading left along the Bread Walk or ahead up the Donkey Steps onto Whitcliffe Common, today we are continuing along the road towards Priors Halton. The road ends at Priors Halton farm, but you can continue on foot or bicycle to Lady Halton or Oakly Park and even Bromfield where you will find Ludlow Food Centre, a café and restaurant. Continue reading Flashback Friday #23
I have traversed to St Michael’s Mount several times over the years and even climbed up to the castle itself a couple of times, but I have never been to the garden as it is only open for a short time from the end of April until September. But this year I was there on the first open day of the season at low tide so that I could walk over the causeway connecting the island to the mainland at Marazion.
It is the most remarkable garden exposed to gales and salty winds, but the Gulf Stream keeps the frosts away and the granite rock acts as a giant radiator – absorbing heat by day and releasing it at night creating a micro climate in which all sorts of plants flourish from Mexico,Canary Islands, New Zealand, Chile, and South Africa.
The gardens are on the rocky slopes and are not easily accessible with the steep and narrow paths, steps and terraces and require constant maintenance and conservation to keep them in good condition. As you enter the garden on the east side you follow an avenue of Cordyline australis with views over Mount’s Bay towards the Lizard. The Laundry Lawn is a place for relaxing, playing and picnicking. The steep bank to your right (see header photo) is part of the defences during the English Civil War and on your left is a Pill Box from the second world war. And as you reach this point, you see ahead of you the dramatic East Terrace, rearing up above your head to the east wing of the castle.
The Pill Box
Now comes the difficult part. To reach the upper slopes you have to scramble up the steep paths where aloes and agaves rear out of the bedrock and exotic succulents cling to every crevice imaginable. Some paths have steep drops, some have handrails, others do not. Aloes flourish and on the top you reach The Tortoise Lawn where you find a Victorian well. Another pathway takes you into the Walled Gardens. Not only do you need good footwear, but also a head for heights as below you is the dizzying drop to the sea and above you rises the sheer sides of the castle.
A profusion of colour greets you as you move into the West Terraces. South African Osteospermum spread over the granite walls. I am taken aback as I only know these as late spring and summer flowers and it is still only April. Geraniums, pelargoniums, Leucondendrum argenteum and Aeonium rise up amongst Agave and Aloes.
The planting on such steep slopes is overwhelming. I am lost for words as I look around me, not knowing which pathway to take. I have never seen a garden like this and I am stunned to think what I have been missing all these years.
And all the while you are aware of the great expanse of the bay, the endless sky and the incredible clear light and all the hard work that must go into creating and maintaining such a wondrous garden. It is magical.
A separate post will appear with close-ups of some of the succulents in this garden. It was just too difficult to decide which of my many photos to leave out!
Agave Americana ‘vatiegata’
And this is a birthday post for the OH who unfortunately was unable to access much of this garden due to the nature of the terrain and his vertigo. But he was very happy to test a bench for me and look out over the bay towards the Lizard peninsula whilst I meandered. (Between you and me I think he was grateful to have a rest )
We first visited this unusual garden in late April 2015 when we just happened to still be in Cornwall on holiday when the garden opened up for the season. Usually we were either too early or too late. We have been back since, but this is my first impression. Originally written on my flower blog for my OH’s birthday at the end of May, this post is a contribution to Fandango’s Flashback Friday. Have you got a post you wrote in the past on this particular day? The world might be glad to see it – either for the first time – or again if they’re long-time loyal readers.
On a visit to California, a few years ago, we had to travel to San Diego from San Francisco and decided that it might be fun to drive down the coast using the PCH rather than fly between the two cities. So from that decision a little road trip was born.
This is the first section between San Francisco and the lovely town of Carmel-by-the-Sea.
Distance: 133 miles via Halfmoon Bay, Santa Cruz Time: 3 hours without stopping
The PCH (Pacific Highway) is one of those iconic drives that should be done in a pink Cadillac convertible with the top down making the most of the azure blue skies and brilliant Californian sunshine with plenty of Beach Boys and Mamas and Papas CDs on board. In reality this was February and an open top car was not an option. We ended up with a Chevvy, but a poor imitation of the Chrysler PT Cruiser with black tinted windows; the skies were gun-metal grey. Not the ideal start, but hey it felt good to be on the road.
We began our journey in San Francisco and immediately headed southwest on to the Cabrillo Highway at Pacifica to follow it south to Monterey and Carmel – our first stop. This is not a long section, but it can take a long time, as there are plenty of scenic viewpoints to stop off at on your way down the coast and in the summer there are several roadside food stalls to entice you.
The section between Pacifica and Half Moon Bay in San Mateo County is prone to periodic landslides and road closures and one stretch is known as the Devil’s Slide*. This particular stretch of road reminded me of Chapman’s Peak Drive in the Cape Peninsula, South Africa, as it hugs a similar steep promontory with equally stunning vistas. We stopped at Half Moon Bay to admire the surfers and the beautiful beach until the rain sent us scudding back to the car.
*(This stretch of the Cabrillo Highway has since been replaced by a road tunnel).
Don’t forget to stop at the family run Duartes Tavern in Pescadero which is a little further south and only 2 miles off the state road; it is still run by the 4th generation of Duartes and home to the worlds most divine Olallieberry Pie, world-famous Cream of Artichoke Soup, and Crab Cioppino. We, on the other hand have had a full breakfast there and no complaints. In this small town you can also find interesting craft shops, artichoke bread and a goat dairy. If you have the time a stroll along the Pescadero State Beach back at the junction with Highway One may bring you into contact with harbour seals among the sand dunes. Continue reading Flashback Friday #21