North East Art Trail ~ 02

At last Sophie and I did an outing together yesterday, and we went on our 2nd Art Trail gleaned from the Art UK website, this time South of the rivers, and starting out in County Durham at a place called Ferryhill where we were to find 3 artworks. It’s a nice little town, built around the mining community in the early 1900’s. Of course the mining industry went tits-up ages ago, and the last mine at Ferryhill closed in 1968.

Our first ‘artwork’ on the list is Cleves Cross and I would beg to differ in it’s designation. It’s not an artwork in my lexicon, such as it is, as we’re looking at a lump of sandstone.

Cleves Cross

However, the lump of sandstone is a fragment of a 12thC medieval cross, set in the ground near the original site, and roughly shaped and with pecked marks. So there’s that.
Several theories exist as to how Ferryhill got its name and the most popular theory is that in the 13th Century, Sir Roger De Ferry (or Ferie), killed the last wild boar near Cleves Cross – certainly the seal of Sir Roger De Ferie still exists and shows a Boar passant. We parked up in De Ferie Court and saw these road signs ~ which do look more like artwork but are not listed on the Art UK site.

Sir Roger and the boar.

Our next artwork, has the lofty name of ‘Beacon of Europe’. Commissioned by the town council, designed by Robert Olley and Bill Kataky then built by the North Eastern Granite Company Ltd. Bearing in mind that County Durham voted overwhelmingly to Leave the EU, I found it rather sad.

No light left.
    The circular brick base has decorative paving, featuring the 12 yellow stars of Europe.
    On each side of the base is a rectangular, etched granite panel with images of a wild boar, a sunrise, a miner and pit pony and rail tracks.
    The centre of the arch contains a fibreglass relief of a miner inserted into the skeleton of the old town hall clock.

    We started working our way back up to Sunderland, (where Sophie lives when in England) with our first stop being at the little village of West Cornforth, known locally as “Doggie” though where that name came from is anyone’s guess. It may relate to the fact that dog irons were made there at one time, which seems good enough to me. We were looking for an artwork called Past and Future, by artist Philip Townsend, which turned out to be two large blocks of buff sandstone that are carved on their front faces with depictions of life in the mining community, set in what looked like a kids playground.
    The block entitled ‘Past’ is inscribed at the top with the words, ‘the past we inherit’.This sculpture, shows a ‘worm’s eye’ view of a scene from the past in which a miner, just returned from work, with his whippet at his feet, is about to release a racing pigeon into the air. In the foreground, sitting on the pigeon basket is his young daughter who is tempting another bird with bread, while to the left a factory chimney releases its swirling smoke, encircling the scene. The block entitled ‘Future’ is inscribed at the top with the words, ‘the future we build’. In this second sculpture, we have a ‘bird’s eye’ view: the years have passed and the young girl is now an elderly lady but still tempting the birds with her bread, while her skateboarding grandson has a pigeon feeding from his uplifted hand.~ Art UK “(He’ll be eating it next at the rate our country is going to the dogs).
    I’m glad they put that on the website as I wouldn’t have worked it all out for myself!

    The Past We Inherit.
    The Future we Build.

    Not listed on Art UK, but in the same park as the Past and Future, there was this..

    see you later…

    So off we went to our next place, Quarryington Hill, another mining village ( there’s a lot in County Durham!) for another mining related artwork, though this one was quite spectacular and informative. As with Past and Future, ‘Into The Depths’ is also by Philip Townsend, and the sculpture comprises two massive triangular blocks of Dunhouse Buff sandstone, base-heavy and tapering in thickness, which sandwich a central Iroko hardwood column.

    The column is surmounted by a depiction of a pit wheel with a tiny figure of a miner standing before it.
    running down the length of the timber, the coalmine’s shaft is shown to the same scale as the figure, with the eight coal seams worked during the mine’s long history crossing horizontally, their individual names and depths alongside, giving the viewer an inkling of just how far below ground these men worked.

    Back up to Sunderland, we went looking for ‘Delegation’, a sculpture by Tord Kjellstrom with glasswork by Creative Glass Ltd, of seven towering figures; the highest being 7.9 metres tall. Each is capped with a glass light box and shaped face. You would have thought 7.9 meters tall would be easy to spot, but it wasn’t. We went to the given postcode and ended up in the carpark of a business park. A little man in a yellow coat came out to see if we were lost, (um possibly) and when asked about the sculptures directed us to a wildlife park which had to cast iron obelisks at it’s entrance, which were not photographically pleasing. We did some more searching on the interweb, and headed back to the carpark to start again, but spotted them whilst we were on the way. Apparently “the sculpture really comes into its own at night, when the light boxes illuminate the eyes on the faces.” ~ Tony Campbell, managing director of Creative Glass. Might be easier to find as well!

    Delegation.

    We then went off to Doxford Business Park on the outskirts of Sunderland, to track down two artworks, Quintisection by Robert Erskine was the first. It’s a large, polished stainless steel sculpture based on the cross-section of a ship.

    A curved ‘hull’ is set on either side of three ‘boxed ribs’.
    This piece was awarded ‘Best Sculpture outside London’ by the Royal Society of British Sculptors in 1995, needs a bit of TLC now though.

    We couldn’t find the other one in spite of driving and walking around the park, so that will have to be tracked down on another day.

    Our last art work isn’t on the Art UK site, but Sophie had spotted it whilst walking to work at the university. There isn’t any information about it, it’s just appeared without fanfare in the garden area of the art department there, so Sophie thinks maybe it’s a student thing. The plinth is permanent, but the statue is new. It is quite powerful, it would be good to know the thoughts behind it, but then again, you can have your own.

    Unknown artist.

    All pictures embiggenable with a click!

    And that, dear reader, is that. Stay tooned for whatever comes next!

    📷 😊

    The moon

    I keep catching bits on the news, about NASA’s artemis project, preparing the way for sending people back to the moon, with a view to colonising it, and as a set off point for then visiting Mars. It’s costing the American people $93 billion dollars.

    I am reminded of this song by Gil Scott-Heron :-

    A rat done bit my sister Nell.
    (with Whitey on the moon)
    Her face and arms began to swell.
    (and Whitey’s on the moon)

    I can’t pay no doctor bill.
    (but Whitey’s on the moon)
    Ten years from now I’ll be payin’ still.
    (while Whitey’s on the moon)

    The man jus’ upped my rent las’ night.
    (’cause Whitey’s on the moon)
    No hot water, no toilets, no lights.
    (but Whitey’s on the moon)

    I wonder why he’s uppi’ me?
    (’cause Whitey’s on the moon?)
    I was already payin’ ‘im fifty a week.
    (with Whitey on the moon)
    Taxes takin’ my whole damn check,
    Junkies makin’ me a nervous wreck,
    The price of food is goin’ up,
    An’ as if all that shit wasn’t enough

    A rat done bit my sister Nell.
    (with Whitey on the moon)
    Her face an’ arm began to swell.
    (but Whitey’s on the moon)

    Was all that money I made las’ year
    (for Whitey on the moon?)
    How come there ain’t no money here?
    (Hm! Whitey’s on the moon)
    Y’know I jus’ ’bout had my fill
    (of Whitey on the moon)
    I think I’ll sen’ these doctor bills,
    Airmail special
    (to Whitey on the moon)

    written in 1970 just after the Apollo 11 expedition.

    We are all like the bright Moon; we still have our darker side.
    Khalil Gibran
    The Moon is almost as obvious as the Sun. Clouds permitting, we can see it in the evening sky nearly half the time.
    David A. Rothery
    The Moon affects people in other ways, for a beautiful crescent suspended in a twilit sky can stir our hearts.
    Ken Croswell
    The full Moon – the mandala of the sky.
    Tom Robbins
    Aim for the Moon. If you miss, you may hit a star.
    W. Clement Stone


    The Moon puts on an elegant show, different every time in shape, color, and nuance.
    Arthur Smith
    There is something haunting in the light of the Moon. It has all the dispassionateness of a disembodied soul and something of its inconceivable mystery.
    Joseph Conrad
    If all fools could fly, the sun would be eclipsed forever.
    Dutch Proverb

    Raby Castle ~ revisted ~ August 2022

    Sophie came. back to England for a few days with her hubby Mentat, and we had decided to take Mentat to Raby Castle as it’s just about the most spectacular one. We also love the formal walled garden for the amount of butterflies and bees that grace the flowers, and the chance of seeing deer is pretty high too, so lots to see and admire. Phil came too.

    Well, what the website doesn’t tell you is that the grounds of Raby Castle are undergoing monumental upheaval and they’ve completely dug up the formal garden,

    This is a little of what is lost.

    Formally developed into a pleasure garden for the family, the existing ornamental garden will be redesigned to provide an outdoor space where visitors can move through planting or attend performances and events.” Performances and events, no doubt for which you pay extra.

    The café we usually go to which was in the old stables is also undergoing renovations.

    café no more


    The buildings, designed by architect John Carr in the 18th century are Grade 2 listed, will be restored and repurposed to provide retail and interpretation spaces.” Not sure what interpretation spaces are, but I sure know what ‘retail spaces’ means!

    There’s also going to be a Play Area :-
    A new feature, the play area will offer play for children aged 4-10 years old and will be built within the original Christmas Tree plantation to the north of the Castle, Park and Gardens”.

    Now Sophie and I do comprehend that people who own small people have to take them out and about at weekends and school holidays, especially in the nice weather. We just don’t like it when they take them out to places we visit. On the whole the small things are pushy, noisy, ill mannered and immune to any attempts at control by their owners (if indeed the owners bother) so this is not good news.

    There’s a lot more to it, the development is called ‘The Rising’ and will take 2 years to complete.

    The castle will remain as it is, and the deerpark, but according to Lord Barnard who owns Raby :-

    Raby Castle has welcomed visitors since the 18th Century, but felt it was “still very much under the radar, and it has a huge amount to share.”

    His motivation for the scheme, he said, “is to really open up the castle and the estate to a great many more people to enjoy.”

    “With a new generation it is time for a new beginning, and we want to make sure that Raby is preserved for future generations to enjoy as well as our own.”

    Which is all poshspeak for ‘not enough people visit to pay for the upkeep of it all’, so I don’t suppose I can blame him, it must cost a fortune to run. The total investment will be in the region of £14 million and paid for by proceeds from new housing developments in Gainford and Staindrop, consisting of 151 houses :-  including 3-bedroomed family, 2-bedroomed cottages, single storey dwellings and apartments. I don’t think they will be ‘affordable housing’ sites!

    Anyway, disappointed as we were about the garden, which was shut off, we went inside the castle and had a walk through the deer park, and had lunch in the new Yurt Café.

    Yurt Café

    I didn’t take any pictures inside the Castle, I’ve already done a 7 part post on Raby which starts HERE if you haven’t seen those and want to, which is quite comprehensive. Also when I’m out with non-photographers the dynamic for photography just isn’t the same, but I did take a shot of the Castle and we came across some deer.

    Boss
    He has a hairy willy, that must tickle.
    lady deer
    the White Queen

    Sophie and will go back in 2 or 3 years and see what’s become of it all so stay tooned for that! 🥴

    all pictures are clickable & embiggenable

    more information:-
    https://advisor.museumsandheritage.com/news/raby-castles-ambitious-development-plans-revealed/

    North East Art Trail ~ 01

    Sophie and I recently discovered a website showing all the works of art in the country, which is pretty amazing really, and we decided to use that as a basis for some of our days out. We filtered our search for North East England and refined it for outdoor artwork only, and found there are 844 items in the area, which in theory would last way beyond our needs. Some of the art works are war memorials and such like, market crosses etc and we are not too bothered about those, but there are some cool quirky things too and those are the ones we’ll be hunting down.

    Our first trail was around Killingworth and Cramlington area. I plotted the artwork positions on a map, and off we went to photograph them on a lovely warm, sunny day, not too hot but just right.

    Our first was ‘Sundial’ (which it is) by Graham Robinson, the artist, and  Anthony Walker & partners landscapers and set in the West Allotment Country Park at Shiremoor (which is not in The Hobbit or consequent books). The pictures of it shown on the website are not that nice, it’s all rusty, grass is growing between the paving slabs and it looks uncared for, but when we got there it was all spruced up. The blurb says “A sundial with face consisting of paving slabs in a variety of shades with iron numbers around a central disk with a sun motif. The gnomon is a large, slanting slab of rusted iron with relief designs of natural forms imprinted on either side. The sundial is sited at the summit of a modern, artificial hill, the highest point in North Tyneside.” A gnomon is not a character from Warhammer 4K, but is the part of the sundial that makes the shadow.

    We parked up and followed the signs and first came to a newly made area where you can sit and reflect about Covid 🙄

    the 3 R’s

    this gentleman and his dog were definitely relaxed and I could see signs of fishing equipment.

    gone fishin’

    You climb a circular path up a hill or use some wooden steps to get to the sundial, and I chose the circular path. A horse wearing a diamante tiara on it’s forehead passed us by, wish I’d got a frontal shot!

    Princess Horse

    Nice to see wildflowers and lots of insects along the way.

    thistle and Burnet Moth

    and then we got to the sundial

    Noon
    ? clay pressings of nature stuff by little people.

    Our next artwork is the Blue Ladies by an unknown artist. Set in a business park of all places.
    According to the blurb “A series of life-sized classical nude female dancing figures. Material is draped around their lower body, held close by their right hands and behind their heads in their left hands. The figures are painted bright blue with gold spots.” Although I don’t count 2 figures as a series.

    Blue Ladies

    Onwards then to Killingworth. There were supposedly 4 artworks here, but try as we might we could only find 2 of them. The first was the Blucher Automotive by Charles Sansbury (1916-1989) at Southgate, on the roundabout at the shopping centre there.
    The Blurb:- An abstract representation of the Blücher locomotive, the first locomotive built by George Stephenson in 1814. It could pull a train of 30 tonnes at a speed of four miles per hour up a gradient of one in 450. The artwork was originally erected in Killingworth town centre in 1971, next to the ‘Puffing Billy’ pub. However, when the pub was demolished the sculpture was dismantled and stored at the Stephenson Railway Museum. With the aid of Heritage Lottery funding, Killingworth Local History Society restored the sculpture to mark the 200th anniversary of the building of the locomotive, which first ran on the Killingworth wagonway on the 25th July, 1814. It was named after the Prussian general Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher, who, after a speedy march, arrived in time to help defeat Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.

    Choo-choo

    Hippos is an artwork by Stan Bonner, situated at Garth 22 in Killingworth. Garth is not a country & western singer but “an enclosed quadrangle or yard, especially one surrounded by a cloister (Middle English; Old Norse garþr, garðr; akin to Anglo-Saxon geard)”, however in Killingworth it means a cul-de-sac.
    The blurb on this one is short and sweet:- “A group of four concrete, pygmy-sized hippos stood on an open paved area”.

    Hippos

    After the hippos we stopped at the lake there to watch the synchronised swimming practice.

    bottoms up

    It was nice to see they’d made a wildflower place instead of the muddy bird poop area that was there the last time we visited.

    After this we toddled up to Burradon to shoot the Colliery Memorial ~ artist unknown.
    The Blurb ~ “A monument made from an old colliery wheel and truck to commemotate those who lost their lives in an explosion at Burradon Colliery on March 2, 1860, which tragically killed 76 men and boys, some as young as 10 years old.

    Colliery Memorial

    Our last stop before lunch was at Cramlington Hospital which has the Helping Hands sculpture by Cate Watkinson and Collin Rennie.
    The Blurb ~ “Three curve-shaped panels representing healing hands set at equal, 120 degree angles to each other, which can be viewed from all sides. The hands are raised in a supplicant manner as if protecting a central space where help can be found”. Hmmm.

    you need hands.

    So that’s our first Art trail done, and hopefully there’ll be more to come! Stay tooned for wherever we end up next time!

    All pictures embiggenable with a click.

    If you fancy seeing which artworks are in your area HERE is the website.

    Herterton Country Garden ~July 2022 ~ part 2

    Part 1 HERE

    I know y’all were taken with Frank and Marjorie’s story last week, though I condensed 50 years into a couple of paragraphs so touched on not much more than an inch of it. They come across in Frank’s book as two lovely people, loving each other and their garden and home. I took a phone shot of them from the book, taken in 1994, they’d be in their 50’s here,under the arches of the byre, and sitting next to the falconer statue.

    Frank & Marjorie

    I took a fair few shots of some of the flowers on display, with some interesting (I think anyway) factoids.

    Foxglove (digitalis purpurea)
    The term digitalis is also used for drug preparations that contain cardiac glycosides, particularly one called digoxin, extracted from various plants of this genus. Foxglove has medicinal uses but is also very toxic to humans and other animals, and consumption can even lead to death.
    Japanese Anemone (anemone hupehensis)
    hupehensis, which means “from Hupeh province, China”, refers to a region where the species is known to occur. So that makes sense 🙄.
    Astrantia (astrancia major) ~ the great masterwort, native to to central and eastern Europe.
    The plant also produces an essential oil that can be used in herbal medicines.
    Persian Cornflower (psephellus dealbatos)
    a species of Psephellus native to the Caucasas Mountains and Turkey. It is widely cultivated as an ornamental perennial.
    Purple Toadflax ( linaria purpurea ‘Canon Went’)
    It is native to Italy but it can be found growing wild as an introduced species in parts of western North America. In the UK it is regarded as something of a weed, spreading readily on stony waste ground and walls, although it is tolerated for its attractive, long-lasting flowers which are very attractive to bees. This plant is poisonous to livestock, but in a recent study conducted in Italy the plant was found to contain a compound exhibiting antifungal activity, making it a potential natural and ‘green’ anti-aflatoxin B1 agent suitable for use in the food industry.
    Martagon Lily, or Turks Cap Lily (lilium martagon)
    is a Eurasian species of lily. It has a widespread native region extending from Portugal east through Europe and Asia as far east as Mongolia. It  is highly toxic to cats and ingestion often leads to fatal kidney failure.
    Purple Viper’s-bugloss, or Patterson’s Curse, (echium plantagineum)
    It is native to western and southern Europe (from southern England south to Iberia and east to the Crimea), northern Africa, and southwestern Asia (east to Georgia). It has also been introduced to Australia, South Africa and United States, where it is an invasive weed. Due to a high concentration of pyrrolizidine alkaloids, it is poisonous to grazing livestock, especially those with very simple digestive systems, like horses. When eaten in large quantities, it causes reduced livestock weight, and death in severe cases, due to liver damage. It can also irritate the udders of dairy cows and the skin of humans. After the 2003 Canberra bushfires, a large bloom of the plant occurred on the burned land, and many horses became ill and died from grazing on it. Because the alkaloids can also be found in the nectar of it’s flowers, the honey made from it should be blended with other honeys to dilute the toxins.
    poppys in the wildflower garden

    And we saw some butterflies

    Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)
    The red admiral is found in temperate regions of North Africa, North and Central America, Europe, Asia, and island regions of Hawaii, and the Caribbean. It resides in warmer areas, but migrates north in spring and sometimes again in autumn. Red admirals are territorial; females will only mate with males that hold territory. Males with superior flight abilities are more likely to successfully court females. They are the Tom Cruise of the butterfly world. It is known as an unusually calm butterfly, often allowing observation at a very close distance before flying away, also landing on and using humans as perches.
    A small tortoiseshell, or angelwing. (Nymphalis) and a Red admiral.
    Today, the anglewing butterflies are found only in the northern hemisphere. Carl Linnaeus described the first members of this group in 1758, and it has since become clear that anglewing butterflies evolved from a common ancestor. During winter months, in latitudes with snow cover, all members of this group hibernate as adult butterflies During hibernation, hidden in various shelters, the butterflies are dormant. The camouflage provided by crypsis (the ability of an animal or a plant to avoid observation or detection by other animals)is advantageous to hibernating butterflies. Potential predators will have difficulties in seeing the dormant butterflies. With their wings closed, exposing only the ventral cryptically coloured underside, they blend in with their surroundings.

    More pictures taken with my film camera at

    OK school’s out 🎓 😊 Stay tooned for next week!

    Herterton Country Garden ~ July 2022 ~ part 1

    After lunch in Morpeth (see the previous 2 posts ) we toddled West for a few miles to visit Herterton House & Gardens, which we somehow hadn’t known about until this month. This was a treat and I wish we’d known about it sooner.

    I can’t do a ‘history bit’ as usual, as the Garden is the lifelong work of Frank and Marjorie Lawley, both now in their eighties and still working on the garden in spite of health issues. The house and grounds were leased to them by the National Trust for 50 years, which is due to finish in 3 years time, when it will revert to the trust, and Marjorie and Frank will have to find a care home or somesuch in which to live out their lives. That seems cruel to me, they should be allowed to live in their home which they’ve worked so hard on, even if the Trust take over the work needed in the garden. But who knows what will happen?

    Marjorie and Frank were both trained artists, meeting and falling in love back in the 60’s when they were learning their craft, but both fell in love with gardening when living in their first home, a cottage on the Wallington Estate, where Marjorie’s Dad was a stonemason. To cut a long story shortish, they were offered the lease to Herterton House through their contact with Trust officials at Wallington, and in spite of there being little to recommend it, i.e no roof on the house and mould on the walls, the land around it a complete mess, they decided to take it on. Apart from a year when 3 people from the government ‘job creation’ scheme came to help, the majority of the work has been done by Marjorie and Frank, and they’re still at it, with the help of one chap in his 70’s!

    Frank wrote a book about their lives, and how they started out, the people they met and learned about plants, flowers and gardening from, how they sourced the antique furniture and pieces for the house, another labour of love, and he dedicated it to his Marjorie, who now has alzheimer’s sadly. It is a beautiful book, and a must for keen gardeners I think, but also for anyone creative, it was a joy to read. There are photo’s of the before and afters, the plans Marjorie drew up for the gardens and some of their artwork.

    We met Frank, and he talked to us about it all, and pointed out things for us to see, whilst Marjorie carried on with her job in the garden. There are 4 sections to the garden, the flower garden, the formal garden, the physic garden and the fancy garden, Sophie and I did them all, and here are some photos.

    Firstly a couple of shots from the photos we saw in the gazebo

    Marjorie making pathways
    Frank & Marjorie gathering up stones
    Marjories plan for one of the gardens
    The formal garden
    In the flower garden looking back from the house toward the gazebo.
    the gazebo

    some views from the gazebo

    One of the buildings next to the house is an old byre, it contains a couple of statues with bits missing which i think were given by either Wallington or Alnwick, I forget which

    the falconer

    also on the wall of the byre is one of only seven three-faced Scottish sundials in this country

    Pesky sundial 🙂

    There is a pretty wild flower area next to the carpark too.

    Next time we’ll have a look at some individual flowers, and there will be a film friday post to go with this at some point (when I get the scans back!) so stay tooned!

    Morpeth ~ July 2022

    Sophie is back in Blighty and available for a couple of weekends outings with our cameras, so last Sunday we had a trip northwards to visit Morpeth, ostensibly Carlisle Park in Morpeth which has stuff of interest to photograph.

    A (very) potted History Bit.

    Morpeth is a historic market town in Northumberland, North East England, lying on the River Wansbeck. It’s spelling has been all over the shop, Morthpeth meaning “myriad”, Morthpath meaning “gateway”, Morthpaeth meaning “fodder”. Who the heck knows what’s that about. 🤷‍♀️ It could have been inhabited during the Neolithic era as a stone axe was found there but that’s about it. No Roman remains have turned up though they were about in Northumberland. It was first referenced in 1080 when William de Merlay was rewarded with “the Barony of Morthpeth stretching from the Tyne to the Coquet” for his part in suppressing the rebellion of Robert de Mowbray, Earl of Northumberland against the King, William II.
    By 1095 Wills had built a motte & bailey castle and in 1138 Will’s son Ranulf de Merlay, lord of Morpeth founded Newminster Abbey (now a grade 2 listed site ~ there’s not much of it left) along with his Missis Juliana.
    In 1200 King John granted a market charter for the town to Roger de Merlay and by the mid 1700s It became one of the main markets in Northern England, and by the mid 18th century was one of the key cattle markets in England selling cattle driven by drovers over the border from Scotland. There’s still a general market there on a Wednesday, and a Farmer’s market one Saturday a month, but I don’t think a bunch of Pesky Scottish drovers with herds of cattle get to it. In 1215 the First Barons War kicked off, this was a civil war where the major landholders (know as barons) of England rebelled against King John (who was a knob) and Morpeth got torched by the barons to block King John’s military ops.
    It’s commonly said that John burnt down the motte and bailey castle and a new castle was later built south of the old one in the 13thC by his son Ranulf, but there’s no evidence for that and an alternative report is that the second William de Merlay (Ranulf’s son) completed the second castle in 1170, the same year he died.
    For some months in 1515–16, Margaret Tudor (Henry VIII’s sister) who was the Queen Consort of Scotland (James IV’s widow), had laid ill in Morpeth Castle, having been brought there from Harbottle Castle.
    During the 1543–51 we have the war of the ‘Rough Wooing’, when Morpeth was occupied by a garrison of Italian mercenaries, who “pestered such a little street standing in the highway” by killing deer and withholding payment for food. Rough Wooing was originally known as the Eight Years War and was part of the wars of the 16th century between England and the Pesky Scots. The historian William Ferguson contrasted this jocular nickname with the savagery and devastation of the war: English policy was simply to pulverise Scotland, to beat her either into acquiescence or out of existence, and Hertford’s campaigns resemble nothing so much as Nazi total warfare; “blitzkrieg”, reign of terror, extermination of all resisters, the encouragement of collaborators, and so on. This was all down to Henry VIII being a knob. In fact most of our Kings were knobs.

    Morpeth has what is reputed to be the tightest curve (17 chains or 340 metres radius) of any main railway line in Britain. The track turns approximately 98° from a northwesterly to an easterly direction immediately west of Morpeth Station on an otherwise fast section of the East Coast Main Line railway. This was a major factor in three serious derailments between 1969 and 1994 when the drivers took the curve at 80miles per hour. The curve has a permanent speed restriction of 50 miles per hour (80 km/h). I’d still advise you to travel by car to visit though! 😊

    That’s most of the good stuff, so cracking on with some pictures now!

    After we got the car parked, we headed straight for Carlisle Park. The park has the William Turner Garden, an aviary, a paddling pool, an ancient woodland, tennis courts, several bowling greens and a skate park. The park has one of the only four floral clocks in England, which was restored in 2018. In 2018, a statue of Emily Wilding Davison was erected in Carlisle Park, to commemorate 100 years since women were given the right to vote. The park has been awarded the Green Flag Award,the Love Parks Award in 2017, and ‘Best Park’ in Northumbria’s in bloom competition in 2018.

    Carlisle Park.

    Emily Wilding Davison (11 October 1872 – 8 June 1913) was an English suffragette who fought for votes for women in Britain in the early twentieth century. A member of the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) and a militant fighter for her cause, she was arrested on nine occasions, went on hunger strike seven times and was force-fed on forty-nine occasions. She died after being hit by King George V’s horse Anmer at the 1913 Derby when she walked onto the track during the race.

    Emily

    Next to Emily’s bit there is an aviary and though they had some plain perspex panels it wasn’t easy to photograph the birds as the panels were a bit mucky, but I got a couple of shots.

    No idea what edition this one is.
    a budgie. I think.

    Sophie decided we needed to climb the steep hill that leads to Morpeth Castle, I hate hills but did it anyway 😄

    There are only remnants left of the castle walls

    but the original gatehouse is still intact, though much altered. The one great military event in the castle’s history was in 1644 when a garrison of 500 Lowland Scots held it for Parliament for 20 days against 2,700 Royalists. The castle was held by and passed by the female line through several illustrious families; de Merlay, Greystoke, Dacre and Howard, none of whom resided there for any long period. In about 1860 the gatehouse was restored and converted to provide a staff residence. The Castle was rented on a long-term arrangement to the Landmark Trust in 1988 which undertook a complete refurbishment in 1990, restoring many of the gatehouse’s original historic features and removing the modern extensions and swimming pool. The gatehouse is now available to rent from the Landmark Trust as holiday accommodation.

    Morpeth Castle Gatehouse.

    The Castle isn’t open usually but they did have an open day at one point and i found a short video of the inside of it;

    The park runs along side the river Wansbeck so we had a wander along.

    heron

    There are boats you can hire for a pootle on the river

    family fun

    it’s a tranquil place to read a book too.

    So that’s it for this week, next time we’ll have a look at a few bits in the town itself.

    Stay tooned!

    📷 🙂

    Birkheads Secret Gardens ~ May 22 ~ part 2

    On with the flowerfest!

    Alpen Rose (rhododendron ferrugineum)
    Common Knapweed (Centaurea nigra,)
    fake heron surrounded by Boris’s Avens (geum coccineum) (there’s a joke to be made there I think)
    a rather large peony
    moss phlox and garden phlox combo.
    faerie
    Common lilac ( syringa vulgaris)
    another peony
    Broom ( cytisus scoparius )
    Angel’s Tears (narcissus triandrus)

    They’ve managed to have a Great Crested Newt or 2 in one of the ponds. This threatened creature has suffered a massive decline and is now legally protected. It can be easily identified as it is our largest newt and the males have vivid breeding colours. Not that you can see those on my rather blurry photo, but I’m including it anyway as they are rare as rocking horse poo due to young boys back in the day hoying them out of the water and taking them home in a plastic bag, where of course they died.

    Great Crested Newt (Triurus cristatus)
    Not a scarecrow. (non a cucumerario formido)

    So that’s the end of our flowerfest, but stay tooned for whatever comes next.

    ref: https://www.birkheadssecretgardens.co.uk/

    Birkheads Secret Garden ~ May 2022 ~ part 1

    I’m not sure why it’s secret, it’s on a map and everything. Anyway it’s a great place for photography. Started in 1978 when Christine and her Hubby moved into Birkheads, and decided to become self sufficient. They grew organic vegetables, fruit, kept ducks & bees and saw how the wildlife were attracted to their land. In 1987 they started to to make an environmentally friendly garden on a site that had been surface mined (opencast) for coal.  Most of the gardens have been created using recycled materials, paving, slates, wood etc. Garden features and sculptures are made from mainly recycled metal and driftwood, others have had a past life in some other place. They were one of the first Green Tourism Businesses to achieve a Gold  Award.

    Sophie and I love visiting here, there’s always something new to see and obviously different times of the year have different flowers and plants for us to focus our cameras on. So here we have it, The Flowerfest! 💐🌷🌸

    woody spurge (euphorbia dendroides)
    Austrian Poppy (papaver alpinum)
    lupin not sure which one.

    We spotted some dragonflies gettin’ jiggy with it.

    true love
    orchid primrose (Primula vialii)
    Lupin (lupinus polyphyllus)
    Pencilled Crane’s-bill (geranium versicolour)
    Columbine (aquilegia vulgaris winky)
    Elephant Ears (bergenia crassifolia)
    Broadleaf speedwell (veronica teucrium) & Green-veined white butterfly (pieris napi)

    the gardens are potted with featured items amongst the flowers

    ?duck and white bells.
    fossilised tree trunk 350 million years old, found when digging out the clay soil when they were making a new pond.

    I think that will do for this week, we’ll have a look at some more flowers and features next time, and there will be a film on friday post to accompany this series. Stay tooned!

    📷 😊