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Sunday, 27 January 2013

The Thaw

Last night when I went to bed the Green was about two inches under snow.  Everywhere was white but today when I got up - which wasn't early, I have to confess, as when I woke up I picked up my kindle and read for a couple of hours - I looked out and there was not a drop of snow anywhere - except a bit on the hills!  It has just gone, disappeared!  You'd never guess there was snow everywhere yesterday! That was the fastest thaw I think I have ever known!!!  I wasn’t even aware if it rained overnight or not but the sun is out today (and I really must clean the windows!  They are filthy with all that the weather has thrown at them.) However of course the river is higher than it was yesterday and may get higher as the snow melt continues to come down the valley,.  I don’t think it will flood though.  We were pretty lucky, missing most of the snow other areas have had  Still, it’s still only January, and as the old English country saying goes    “ February fill the dyke, Be it black or be it white; But if it be white, It's the better to like.”   (A rural appellation for the month of February, when rain or melting snow fills dykes with water).[1978 R. Whitlock Calendar of Country Customs iii.]   Statistically February is actually one of the driest months of the year.

When I was a kid that expression ‘fill the dyke’ confused me terribly, as in Scotland a dyke is a wall, so  of course the saying didn’t make any sense.  It was only years later that I discovered the English meaning is a ditch, which unlike a wall can of course be filled!

No photos today.  I forgot to charge the camera battery!

Talk again soon 

Sunday, 20 January 2013


I haven’t been doing too much lately except working on various family trees – not mine this time  - and trying to sort out stuff I don’t need and can take to the charity shop!  I’ve also been out for lunch with friends, at the new visitor centre at Abbotsford House, home of Scottish 19th century novelist, Sir Walter Scott.  abbotsford under scaffolding Jan2013The house itself is undergoing some refurbishment at the moment so is covered with scaffolding but here’s how it looks anyway!   You really will have to click the photo to see it better!  eildon from abbotsford

In the opposite direction you get a view of just one of the Eildon Hills.  It wasn’t the nicest of days as you can see, but I liked the composition!     sunset peebles high street I had the camera with me late one afternoon as I was coming along the High Street, and realised that the days are lengthening already.  A month ago it would have been dark by 4.20.daffs

And look what are pushing up through the snow.  My daffodils are looking good.  Another couple of months and they’ll be in flower.  I was on my way out to take a walk over Tweed Bridge and along the Green.tweed green This is looking down  at Tweed Green from the bridge, and for once, my house isn’t hidden behind a tree!  Well, I made sure it wasn’t!

pbls bridge and church There are steps down to the riverside from the far side of the bridge, from where you can look up to the parish church tower, or across the river to the Green, both nice viewstweed green2.




I walked in the snow along the riversidepbls tweed green looking back now and again to the bridge, the church and the houses along Tweed Green,

priorsford bridge2and crossed the river again at Priorsford footbridge.  It’s not a long walk back along the Green.tweed green5

In days gone by people who lived on the Green were permitted by a local by-law to hang their washing, their laundry, on washing lines attached to these poles alongside the path.  Actually, technically, one still can use these washing poles, but no-one does now!

So after my walk in the cold I headed to Pam’s tearoom for a hot cup of tea and a treacle scone, oven door robin filterand who did I see hopping around the courtyard outside?   I love to get photos of robins!  The picture turned out a bit blurred so I played with it a bit and added a filter to improve it.  Isn’t he cute!

Talk again soon.

Studley Royal Water Gardens

We could have walked the long path round from Fountains Abbey to the water gardens but I felt that as we had walked rather a lot already we should just take the car round the road to the other entrance.  gate to studley royal What an imposing entrance – a large arched gateway, long straight drive through the deer park – no deer in sight that day – culminating in a view of St Mary’s church.sr church




The road to the water garden turned off before we reached the churchsr waterfall and followed the lakeside to the car park .  The pedestrian gate was situated just to the right of the waterfall with its decorative towers, one on either side,

temple of piety

and from there it was a short walk along the “canal” above to the ornamental lakes with the Temple of Piety dominating the view. sr canal  


Then there was the cascade and at last the bridge. which we crossed to walk  back on the far side of the canal.  fountains abbey studley royal 069

sr neptune

The route brought us to the temple with views of the statues.This is Neptune.  He stands in the centre of the circular lake facing the temple…

above the cascade

    ..and eventually we reached the bridge above the waterfall, which to be honest I don’t remember crossing!  It looks rather scary to me, too narrow,  with nothing to hang on to, but I must have crossed it as I have a picture of the pillar at the far side taken from the bridge!fountains abbey studley royal 084 

Just to prove it!

So we had done the basic circuit of the water gardens, and headed back to the car, taking a last look back at the waterfallsr falls.

You really can’t see the bridge!  Clever landscaping!

Talk again soon.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Fountains Abbey

Another of Colin’s and my trips out in the summer, when he wasn’t long out of hospital, took us to Fountains Abbey, apparently the largest abbey ruins in the country.  I wouldn’t argue with that, though I might say that it has a rival contender in Easby Abbey which we saw another day!  Anyway, having started with about a dozen Cistercian monks in the 12th century, Fountains grew to become a monastery of considerable importance, before Henry VIII ordered the dissolution of the monasteries in 1539.  As well as the “white monks” who lived a very austere life in the Abbey, lay brothers also worked for the abbey in the fields and  in other trades that allowed the monks more time to devote to their worship of God.

abbey tower We probably didn’t start at quite the right spot or we might have seen more of the estate – Fountains Hall, for example, and the Mill. However Colin not having been out of hospital too long at that stage, it was probably enough to see what we did.  It involved quite a bit of walking .

Fountains Abbey monks


We arrived at the abbey itself just as a group of  not very tall “white monks” were being led into the nearest building – a group of school children on a study visit.abbey ruins


We wandered round the abbey buildings by ourselves, taking photos from different directions.  I think this is a view of the abbey from the ruins of the abbot’s house….abbey tower from cloister arch

…..while this is taken through a cloister arch with a glimpse of a couple of the “white monks” we saw earlier….

abbey church ….and now we are in the abbey church itself.  It amazes me how these arches, pillars and vaults are still intact after all these years.abbey church aisle pillars

I wonder if they have been restored? They are quite awe-inspiring – I refuse to use the word awesome!!!!!

the great cloister interior

This is the great cloister, with the cloister garden through the windows on the left.  I really want to show ALL my photos of the Fountains Abbey buildings here  Let’s see how many I can put in.near the tower .



 To be honest I’m not sure exactly where this was taken but surely that must be part of the tower.  What work went into carving the blocks of stone and the ornamental gateways and windows.  This is a model of how the Abbey probably once looked in its heyday around the 15th century, before Henry VIII ordered its dissolution.  I have labelled the buildings as to their use.  I hope you can make them outabbey model inscribedthe great cloister

This is from about the same angle as the model, so there’s the great cloister in the centre with the church on its left. The buildngs on the right would have been part of the hospitium where pilgrims and other visitors to the abbey would be entertained. 

I found several little neuks and crannies where little wild flowers had seeded themselves. I love these little niches of colour against the greys of the stonework….a niche of wild flowers

a drop of colour

wild flowers


and these tiny ferns with the beautiful wild orchid and the yellow flowers.

Well, I hope I’ve shown you enough to whet your appetite for a visit to Fountains Abbey.

Talk again soon.

Thursday, 10 January 2013


I had quite a leisurely time in Yorkshire.  richmond from maison dieu Colin unfortunately had to be at a hospital appointment last Thursday, so I took myself off in the car to Richmond, stopping on the way in to photograph the town from the road called Maison Dieu – House of God, because of an old chapel possibly to St Nicholas, or maybe because it was the road to nearby Easby Abbey.  Parking in the large square surrounding Trinity Church in the town centre I set off to do a bit of exploring. 

This Richmond was the first of all the Richmonds in the world!  The building of the huge castle on the ‘riche mont’ - the strong hill -  was begun a few years after the Norman Conquest of 1066 by a Norman knight who had been given the land (and a great deal more) by his kinsman William I – William the Conqueror.  richmond castle Apparently the tall keep wasn’t built until the 12th century when it was erected over the original gatehouse.

In the middle ages the town grew quite substantially, with 13 craft guilds controlling trade.  The Saturday market still takes place in the square about 550 years after its inception by royal charter in the15th century.

The town thrived in the Georgian period of the late 17th and 18th centuries and the old medieval houses of the town began to be knocked down and rebuilt, giving the town the appearance we know today. eichmond market place    

This is the top of the square, the market place with the Trinity Church tower and the 18th century obelisk that replaced the original market cross.  It was interesting to discover that there was (is?) a huge water tank below the obelisk, once providing the town’s water supply.  To our right of the white building near the centre of the photo is the King’s Head hotel, built in 1718 as a well to do family’s home, converted to a hotel in the  mid-18th century. Here was where wealthy visitors to the town stayed indulging in card parties, dances and other assemblies, and attending the horse racing that took place nearby.

top of market square The castle is almost behind and to the right of where I stood to take the picture above – this is the view of the castle as I turned around -  and has a walking path round the outside of the walls where visitors could promanade.  I decided to take a promenade of my own.  The castle stands way above the river Swale, on its riche-mont, so the views are generally ones looking down.  the culloden towerSeveral of the streets that lead down to the river are quite steep.  My path led behind the white house here on the right.    richmond rooftops




and here I could look down on one of the postern gates built in the old town wall.  In the distance on the green hill you can see, in both photos, the Culloden tower, built to commemorate the victory of the Hanoverians over the Jacobites at the battle of Culloden (CullODDen) in 1746.

Richmond Green A little further on there was the view of Richmond Green where in the middle ages a tannery, a brewery, several mills and a nail makers were found.  When I was living in Yorkshire over 25 years ago, I would come to Richmond often to shop, and got to know the town reasonably well.  The tree you can see in the middle of the green replaced the tree I remember!  Can’t remember what happened to it though.  Did it fall down or was it cut down?  I only remember it going, and the green being covered with branches of it.  Later they planted a new tree – the one there now.  It’s quite a bit bigger now than it was!

richmond bridge2 Green Bridge, so called because it is pretty near the Green, is an interesting bridge.  When it was built in the 18th century two different  builders were charged with the building of it.  richmond bridge askrigg lancaster

They obviously didn’t communicate too well with each other as the parapet can be seen to be two stone blocks high to the middle of the bridge from one side, and three smaller stone blocks high from the other side!  (I took this photo on a previous visit). 

castle walk Continuing along the Castle Walk the walls are high on your left, while views to the river are obscured with trees these days.  Shame really!  The river with Billy Bank Wood on its far side, then the waterfalls further along would have been lovely to look at from this height, but I couldn’t get a clear enough view.  richmond castle

Then turning away from the river the buildings of the town come into view, and the path ends at the gate to the castle.  (No apologies for showing this photo twice)

So!  There were so many other things I could have gone to see in Rchmond, and already I am compiling a list of them for next time – places of interest; views of interest……

Talk again soon. 

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Happy New Year

It’s a bit belated but I wish you a very happy and healthy 2013.  I’ve been down in Yorkshire for about a week, hence the “no show” for a while. 

midnight I saw the new year in with Janet’s family, plus Ian and Colin, to the bells of Big Ben on TV, at a party in Darlington.  Ready with the camera as usual, I think I actually got this shot before everyone pulled their party poppers at midnight.  There’s only one trail flying across the TV screen.

Everyone wished everyone else “a happy new year”, Auld Lang Syne was murdered as it usually is beyond the Scottish border.    Here are the words.

Should auld acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind ?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot, and auld lang syne* ?

For auld lang syne, my jo, for auld lang syne,
we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet, for auld lang syne.

And surely ye’ll be your pint-stowp ! and surely I’ll be mine !
And we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet, for auld lang syne.


We twa hae run about the braes, and pu’d the gowans fine ;
But we’ve wander’d mony a weary fit, sin auld lang syne.


We twa hae paidl’d i' the burn, frae morning sun till dine ;
But seas between us braid hae roar’d sin auld lang syne.


And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere !and gie's a hand o’ thine !
And we’ll tak a right gude-willy waught, for auld lang syne.


Normally you’ll only hear the first and last verses sung – and the chorus too - and it’s only in the last verse that arms are crossed, as you offer a handshake to your trusted friend.  2013 london fieworks

The fireworks in London were amazing, and I am sure if we had gone outside we’d have heard plenty fireworks in the Darlington area too.  We got our first foot – the first person over the doorstep in the new year – carrying his piece of coal to ensure a prosperous year ahead.  In this case it was the man of the house who had been sent out of the back door just before midnight, to come round and knock at the front door just after the bells!.  It was a lot of fun.  Thanks guys!

Talk again soon.