Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Bank holiday 'up North'...

On a whim, faced with another 3 day weekend (I never imagined I would dread these long weekends but at times I do - the inevitable sense of family/couples stuff going on serves to highlight those of us not in those kind of relationships!), I visited a friend in beautiful Yorkshire.

Hadn't entirely anticipated the bank holiday/first weekend of the school half term traffic which made a 3 1/2 hour journey take 5 hours and there was a twinge of irony leaving scorching sunshine and 26C in Norwich to arrive in Knaresborough as the heavens opened with a torrential thunderstorm! 



It wasn't cold though, and once it brightened up we went for a wander round the town and beside the river. Knaresborough is a pretty little town with lovely open public land - covered in buttercups at the moment...



It was lovely to catch up with a dear friend over a glass of wine...


My friend belongs to a walking group and on Sunday we joined them at Sutton Bank National Park Centre for a 12 mile walk. It started a bit grey and blustery but the pace was brisk so there was no time to get cold! And not much time to take photos! But you can see for miles from the path along the edge of the escarpment... 




And I couldn't resist more buttercups...


As we walked, the skies cleared and we all shed layers as the temperature soared. The sense of expanse of countryside up in the hills always takes my breath away...


And this area rightly claims to have stunning views...


Beautiful place to stop for lunch...


I love the lush green of these hills and the contrast of the terracotta tiles on the cottage roof...


The hedgerows and meadows are full of colour at this time of year - the last of the bluebells, pungent white flowered wild garlic, yellow buttercups, pink campion and white hawthorn blossom... 


Delicate fronds of cow parsley...


Towards the end of the walk we came through a village with pretty stone cottages...


...before a welcome cold beer in the pub in the nearby village of Sutton-under-Whitestonecliffe. I rarely drink beer but this was a very welcome half!

In the evening we headed to Leeds for a night of entertainment at "Trouble at Mill' night of comedy and music - the headline of the night was Tom Wrigglesworth who is a regular on Radio 4 comedy shows and lived up to expectations. But the spellbinding act off the night for me was a 'speed painting' artist called Dave Sharp who painted this huge canvas in a matter of minutes...

 
Initially it wasn't obvious who the subject was - he paints with two brushes and his hands with such energy and the first few brush strokes look entirely random, then suddenly it became clear. So clever. And he was auctioning these paintings this weekend for the victims and families of the Manchester bombing. Check out his work on his website or via twitter... https://twitter.com/DaveSharpsArt Amazing to watch!

Good to do something different for a couple of days, back to work with renewed energy tomorrow maybe!

Sx



Sunday, 16 April 2017

Spring colour...

This weekend has been one for doing things on a whim. A change of plans found me home alone so on Friday evening I took myself off to the theatre to see the musical about the Kinks, Sunny Afternoon. Worth a look if you ever get a chance to see it - surprising just how many of the songs are an integral part of my memories, even though I would not have put myself down as a particular fan as such. And then today I thought I'd take advantage of the bright morning to take a quiet walk at Blickling, forgetting that it was Easter Egg hunt day and the place was heaving! From the lake it was peaceful...


Something about water, reflections and skies that appeals to me every time...


There is a fair sprinkling of fresh green in the trees but in the woods by the lakeside there is still a feel of early season with the sun casting shadows through bare branches...


It was blowy and these grasses were trying hard to escape out of shot but I loved the sun shining through the feathery seedbeds...


There are lovely bluebell woods at Blickling but just a little bit early today - they are just opening but in a week or two of sunny weather they will be beautiful...



The spring blossom is so pretty...



There are still some late daffodils but the bluebells will soon steal the show...


I can't help thinking the sheer variety of shapes and colours employed by nature to ensure plants survive is quite overwhelming. Even those we might consider to be weeds like the humble dandelion (which my mum was viciously removing from her garden with an ancient gardening tool that looked like an instrument of torture!) have such a beautiful structure and design, its fragility just waiting for the breeze to carry those seeds away...




Back in the main garden I avoided the main areas crowded with families hunting purple wrapped treats and headed for the tulip beds. I always love this area with its gradation of colours from the yet to open darkest purples through pinks, reds, oranges and yellow with white in the very distance...


I love tulips. On the whole I'm not much of a one for big blousy blooms but I do love these, with their velvety petals and upright habit. En masse like this they are stunning. And infinitely more impressive than the odd ones I have dotted around my courtyard garden at home.




I'm pretty sure I took similar photos of these definitely unsubtle blooms on a similar walk another year...




Even though there was a nip in the air today, its difficult not to really feel Spring is properly here with  so much colour in the flowerbeds. 

Whilst not wanting to wish the time away, I am very ready for some warmer days.

S x


Wednesday, 29 March 2017

London in Springtime...

Last week I took a trip to London to meet a friend. The skies were grey but Regents Park was in early Spring colours...



Lovely to see such a splash of colour and delightful to have a few hours with a much missed friend. 

And somewhat sobering that whilst I was wandering lazily under a huge umbrella, not so far away events were unfolding in Westminster that gave the world another shake.

There is something very reassuring about the resilience and reliability of nature as it rolls through the seasons - whatever chaos is happening elsewhere - the tress blossom, the bulbs and spring flowers shout brassily and the first grass mowings of the season fill the air with that distinctive scent...

I am reminded to be thankful for small things and to try to appreciate every day.

S x

Sunday, 5 March 2017

February...blinked and missed it!

I don't know whether to be glad we are rapidly heading out of winter or slightly freaked that the months race past so fast. Seems to me the older you get the more rapid the passing of time! But on the whole, I'd go with the former emotion - whilst I love crisp, bright winter days I do struggle with the sense of hibernation that pervades with days and nights that, when you work full time and long hours, seem barely discernible. So, I'm not sorry February is out of the way and the evenings are brightening. I feel as though it passed without anything much to enjoy or appreciate but looking back through the few photos I took I realise that's not entirely true.

I was lucky enough to be given National Trust membership by kind friends last year and unknown to me, they renewed it for me again this year. So at the end of January, on a beautiful cold Sunday I went to Felbrigg Hall, one of my favourite NT houses as a child - I always felt it had the feel of a family home, albeit a very grand one! The house doesn't open to visitors until March but the gardens and park are open so I put by boots on and walked...


It was lovely to see some blue sky...


and the beautiful thing about winter sunshine is the long shadows it throws...


Ok, so this is not your average family home...


but, to me it felt much more 'friendly' than the other grand halls in the area. It was bitterly cold, even in the bright sunshine, with frost on the estate churchyard...


A couple of weeks later, on a bit of a whim, I decided to drive to Bristol to see my youngest son where he is at University of West England. Not such a bright weekend but the city of Bristol, which I hadn't been to before, was a lovely place to spend a couple of days. Sadly, I was not in this rather lovely hotel...!


We walked up to Cabot Tower... 


for the views across the city. I imagine on a brighter day, you must be able to see for miles from here...



Lovely to see patches of snowdrops...


Seems to me Bristol has quite distinct 'neighbourhoods' within the city - on the way to Brunel's famous suspension bridge we took time out in pretty Clifton with its streets of independent shops. Loved this flower shop display on the path...


And the sun kindly came out for us to sit and eat huge scotch eggs and salads from a deli/bakery - so good!


The bridge is an impressive structure spanning the Avon Gorge...


with beautiful skies...




 Bristol seems to have lots to offer and we barely began to explore in a short weekend. The Docks are worth a visit, with the fascinating museum of the recovered Steamship, SS Great Britain. So well done, to be able to walk under the glass water level...



and inside the ship a real sense of the history and the conditions in the reconstructed cabins. Lovely to spend a bit of time with my boy and let him share his 'new' city...


Last look back at the prettily coloured houses overlooking the water...


Even on a fairly dull couple of days, Bristol had a nice feel to it and it was good to see him settled and happy.

And that was it for days out in February! And already almost a week into March! This weekend I have largely hidden at home with a touch of the viral lurgy that seems to be prevailing but last week it was lovely to feel a bit of warmth in the air in Regent's Park, London...


and to realise that at 5.30pm the sun was only just beginning to set over the River Wensum in Norwich...


And yes, my prevailing feeling is roll on Spring and warmer, longer days...

S x