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Monday, 20 August 2012

Garden flowers

I’m flitting (blogwise) between home and Yorkshire now.   I still have lots to tell you about visits we made in Yorkshire, but being home again means there are things going on here too.  bhd cream roses Today I will just show you photos of flowers as the owner of the garden we went to see with U3A garden group didn’t want photos of the house published on the internet.  I’m not even going to tell you its name, but I will show you the flower photos I took.

We had a tour with the head gardener who explained the evolution of the garden over the years since the present owners bought the house and land.  It is still a work in progress and it will be interesting to return at some later date just to look out for the changes.bhd blue with raindrops

I am not even going to attempt to remember the names of most of the flowers, like this one with its 3-petalled blue flower.  I did ask someone and they told me but it has completely gone out of my head again. 

bhd blue


Crumbs!  I know this one!  It’s on the tip of my tongue too but I just can’t  remember it!  Beautiful though, isn’t it!

bhd scabious

This one is a scabious!  I used to have these in my last garden.  I had some pale pink ones too.   I love the blues of this scabious.



bhd clematis

Moving from the blues to the purples and pinks of the garden, this clematis climbing up a sandstone wall was flowering beautifully for us.bhd flowerbed..

…as was this bed of herbaceous plants.  Why can I never get my flowerbeds to look as beautiful as these?  I guess I need a head gardener myself!

bhd japanese anemones

These pink Japanese anemones on the right are a favourite of mine.bhd nettle family perhaps

And are these related to the nettles, I wonder?  I’m sure they must be.  They look so like the dead nettle  the one with the white flowers and no sting when you touch it!

bhd spot the bumblebee

Two photos here!  First – spot the bumble bee?

 You can just see its bum and a leg sticking out of the lower left hand bell of the lower spray of flowers!  bhd bumblebee revealed

Picture 2 has him making his way down to the next bell!

bhd pink rose

This is such a delicate pink  climbing rose. These and the creamy white ones were doing well after all the rain we’ve had lately.bhd cream rose  bhd cream rosesAre these actually roses?  The leaves on the right really don’t look like rose leaves.  Anyway, they are still really pretty.

bhd hydrangea

Apparently hydrangeas like this pink one (right) or even the blue or white ones don’t grow well in Peebles.  I have no idea why, but obviously the soil isn’t the right ph!  This one was doing well  at “bhd” (which is how I’ve labelled the garden.)bhd seaholly

I love these (left).  Again, their name escapes me.  I think it’s a sea holly and its name begins with E.  Er….Eryngium!  That’s it!  Got there!  Below is my last photo from the bhd garden,bhd sweet chestnuts a tree this time – the sweet chestnut, with its beautifully glossy leaves.  bhd tiny fungi

Oh and I forgot the photo of the group of tiny little fungi that were growing near the garden swing!  They are only about an inch tall – 2.5 centimetres.

Agapanthus!  The blue flower near the top!  It just came to me!  It’s an agapanthus!

Wish I could show you some of the other photos, but I was specifically asked – told - not to publish them on the internet, so I haven’t.bhd view from 

I’ll just finish off with a view FROM the garden.  There’s a bit of the English cathedral look about the church in the distance, isn’t there?

Talk again soon.  

Sunday, 19 August 2012

We’ve got a gold pillar-box!

Pillar box; post box; letter box; mail box…. whatever you call them, in Britain they are painted red.  Originally in the 1800s they were green, but red was chosen later so they would be easily seen.  Here, we have two types of mail box – the  box that is fitted into a wall and the freestanding pillar or cylindrical “box” that stands on the edge of a pavement/sidewalk.

Peebles gold pillar box During the  Olympics though, Royal Mail decided to paint gold a pillar box in each British Gold medallist’s home town – and because one of the Equestrian team was born in Peebles, the  pillar box in Peebles High Street was quickly painted after the team’s gold medal performance in London.  (click on the lower of the two pillar box icons at Edinburgh on the map to read about Scott and you can see more of the Peebles box here.)

How long they will stay gold I have no idea but they will eventually be repainted in their usual red (with black base).

Apparently when it was first painted – when I was still down at Colin’s, loads of people were getting their photographs taken with it!  The novelty has worn off now so I was able to capture the box in its new livery without anyone hanging around!

Just a quickie entry today.

Talk again soon.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

The Harry Potter Castle

Back in Yorkshire again, Colin and I drove up the A1  to join the Tweeddale U3A group on the annual outing to Alnwick (pronounced more like Annick, it is the town on the river Aln).  The castle there is most impressive- as you may know if you’ve watched any of the Harry Potter films.  Alnwick was the castle exterior that was used as Hogwarts School for Magicians.  Remember those games of  Quidditch?

alnwick castleWe arrived before the coach from Peebles so waited for them at the Castle Square, near the entrance,  with the view of the Barbican in front of us.    I remember seeing this as a child, and being told that the figures on the wall tops were statues that would make invaders think that the castle was better fortified than it actually was.

Eventually the coach and the Peebles folk arrived, and were quite surprised to find us there!  “We didn’t see you on the coach” said some, “Were you on the coach?” so we explained the situation.  I had thought we were to have a group guided tour but the plan was to go our separate ways and meet back at an appointed time to join  the coach again.  alnwick harry hotspur Well that was fine.  We entered the first courtyard where there’s this magnificent bronze statue of Harry Hotspur -  Harry Percy, son of the 1st Earl of Northumberland – on his horse.  Harry didn’t live long enough to become 2nd Earl.  His son had that honour!  The present Duke is the 12th in line.

alnwick, shilbottle, roses 004 In the next courtyard we found some Medieval pavilion tents set up as stalls selling what the guide brochure calls tasty treats!  We sampled the hog roast!alnwick court jester  Pretty good! 

Tables and chairs were set up outside for visitors to the cafe and stalls, and we were amused when a medieval court jester climbed onto a chair, blew a rather battered horn, and called –” GENTLEMEN… LADIES… HONOURED GUESTS OF OUR LORD PERCY….”  All eyes were on him by now.  He had our full attention for some momentous announcement….”AB..SOLUTE..LY NOTHING… IS ABOUT… TO HAPPEN!”  he called! Then he jumped off the chair and began to walk around  greeting people who were walking  around the courtyard, welcoming the children and parents as if they too were medieval families, or knights and ladies!  alnwck jester on stilts alnwick castle2 By the time we were finished our hog roast buns and had walked through the arch into the Outer Bailey a small crowd were gathered round the same jester who was pretending not to be able to walk on stilts.  He careered about a bit and almost fell into the arms of a  member of the crowd.  Leaning his hands on the man’s shoulders the jester profusely thanked the gallant sir for having saved his life, leaned down and planted a kiss on his cheek, to the great amusement of the crowd and the total embarrassment of the “gallant sir”. 

alnwick tenant volunteers We walked on  round the outer bailey looking into various exhibitions and museums, down onto the gun terrace facing the river, round to the ramparts fly like harry potter and watched some of the activities that were going on ….alnwickarchery 

alnwick castle state apartments

and eventually came  round to the entrance of the state apartments a rather higgledy piggledy assortment of square and round towers and connecting walls sitting in the centre of the castle grounds.  There was no photography allowed inside but believe me when I say that the state rooms were beautiful. alnwick castle gate I absolutely adored the library.  The guide told us she had been up a ladder cleaning books that morning!  The only thing I didn’t  like was the collection of stuffed pets to be found all over the place, curled up on chairs or standing around in the rooms. Ugh!

 The U3A group were leaving at 3.30 so I went to wave them goodbye, before Colin and I left too to have a quick look at Alnwick town centre.  

alnwick corner mkt plThe market was almost packed away as we arrived in the square, but I took a photo of these old buildings with the market cross in front.   I’d like to have a further look around Alnwick.  Looks like an interesting place  - and there’s a huge secondhand bookshop to explore too!

shilbottle church and graveJust a quick wee note to end with… On the way home we called in at the village of Shilbottle where ancestors on mother’s side had lived in the early 19th century.    We found the church and had a squizz round the graveyard – and found this stone!  John Grey, mason, and his wife Mary. My great great greats!

Talk again soon.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

North Berwick

nb fenton towerBefore I came back down to Yorkshire, my sister and I arranged a get together, in North Berwick, about half an hour east of Edinburgh.  I picked Jean up at her house and we drove out to the coast,  passing  this wonderful 16th century tower house, Fenton Tower, on the way.   It was restored  about 10 years ago as exclusive guest accommodation, having lain empty for over 350 years.  Take a look at the website to see what a wonderful job has been done!  You need loads o’ money to stay here!

We came down the hill past Berwick Law (a conical volcanic plug.  You can read about its story here.  There’s a replica whalebone arch on the top, replacing a succession of arches that have been up there since the early 1700s) and into the town.  It’s a busy little town centre, but we found a parking space pretty much outside the gallery and cafe where Jean had suggested we have lunch.  After lunch we took a walk along the main street , looking in shop windows and dropping in to the charity shops to see if we could find any bargains, but I was keen to see the sea!  nb harbourI love the sea!  We walked along to the links and found a bench to sit on for a while, where we could look along the west beach to the harbour.nb west beach ev

You may not see unless you click to enlarge the left hand photo that several of the properties along the top of the beach, have steps over their back wall down to the beach.nb jmgi

Jean took a photo of me so I retaliated with one of her, so, folks who don’t know her, this is my sister! 

After a while looking out to Craigleith, Lamb Island (which belongs to Yuri Geller), and Fidra, all volcanic plug islands,  we reckoned it was time for a cup of tea.  Over in the next bay, beyond the harbour is the Seabird Centre, which has a nice cafe overlooking the east bay(Milsey Bay) so that’s where we headed for.sandy the seal

We chose a table out on the decking, overlooking the sea and the Bass Rock as well as the  beach and seafront.  This little sculpture was new, the little bronze seal pup on a rock just over the wooden railing.  There was a plaque on the railing commemorating  Sandy the seal, 1996 – 2012.  I take it that Sandy was a familiar figure around the bay, and that he must have died earlier this year……. Actually, the story isn’t so poignant!  I looked him up on Google and found that he’s no seal in particular, just one in general, to represent the “diversity of wildlife” in the area!   He’s still very cute! nb stitch east beach Looking to the right of Sandy the seal you can see the beach and the children’s swimming pool; the sea front houses that would once probably have been guest houses for the visitors from Edinburgh and its surroundings, in the 19th century, and part of the town with a bit of the Seabird Centre building on the right.  The hill in the distance is Berwick Law, the volcanic hill with the jawbone arch on the top.  When we were youngsters Jean and I came out here with Mum and Dad quite often in the summer.  We’ve built sandcastles on that beach, played in the swimming pool, and had ice-creams from the cafe that used to be in the large white and blue building to the right of the church steeple.  It’s now the Royal National Lifeboat Institution’s shop. north berwick peninsula This is the view back to the seabird centre, the building on the right.  The road past the cottages on the left takes you down to the harbour.  In the centre is the War Memorial, and behind it is the site of a monastery.  There are some foundations left, and the little white building immediately to the left of the street light was the porch of the church.  However, there must have been a great deal of erosion going on as most of the church actually collapsed into the sea, to the right of the picture, way back around the 1600s.

IMG_3550 North Berwick is a lovely place to wander round, with pretty cottages in little side streets, attractive independent shops in the main street, and smart boats in the harbour area.  The Seabird Centre has great displays of sealife and cameras on the Bass Rock relaying back images of the gannet colony and the other birds that nest over there.  Picnic on the beach?  Ice cream vans always do a roaring trade.  Take a trip round the Bass (rhymes with mass and lass).  Loads to do here, but we didn’t have time to do any more.  Back to the car and home, dropping Jean off on the way, but I’m sure to be there again before too long.

Talk again soon.