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/

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!

Sunsets & Rises ~ England edition

A few of my favourite skies on my visits around the country.

“When your world moves too fast, and you lose yourself in the chaos, introduce yourself to each color of the sunset.” – Christy Ann Martine

Surfers and Sunset Cornwall 2002

“Sunset is a moment where all emotions are experienced: Melancholy, amazement, intoxication, casuistry, admiration, love, sadness…” – Mehmet Murat Ildan

Druridge Bay, Northumberland November 2011

“For me, optimism is two lovers walking into the sunset arm in arm. Or maybe into the sunrise – whatever appeals to you.” – Krzysztof Kieslowski

The Angel of the North, Gateshead, June 2012

“Sensual pleasures have the fleeting brilliance of a comet; a happy marriage has the tranquillity of a lovely sunset.” – Ann Landers

Bedfordshire, August 2014

“Sunsets, like childhood, are viewed with wonder not just because they are beautiful but because they are fleeting.” –  Richard Paul Evans

Somewhere down south on the A1 travelling home. Oct 2015

“It’s not just a sunset; it’s a moonrise too.” – P. C. Cast

The Oak Tree & moon, Wardley, Gateshead, May 2016

 “Sunsets are proof that no matter what happens, every day can end beautifully.” – Kristen Butler

Manchester, November 2016

 “When the sun is setting, leave whatever you are doing and watch it.” – Mehmet Murat Ildan

The Tyne Bridge, Newcastle-Upon- Tyne, December 2017

Sunrise is the reminder that we can start new beginning from anywhere.”
~ Rupal Asodaria

Port of Dover, Ocober 2017

“Every sunrise is an invitation for us to arise and brighten someone’s day.”
~ Jhiess Krieg

Sunrise over a snowy Wardley, January 2018

 “No sun outlasts its sunset, but will rise again and bring the dawn.” – Maya Angelou

The English Channel, taken from Folkestone, May 2018

“Now she’s lit by the warm orange spreading from the horizon as not-quite-day, becomes not-quite-night.”― David Levithan

Frego at South Shields, South Tyneside November 2021

 “Beautiful sunsets need cloudy skies” – Paulo Coelho

North Shields, North Tyneside, December 2021

“…At every sunset, the sky is a different shade. No cloud is ever in the same place. Each day is a new masterpiece. A new wonder. A new memory.” – Sanober Khan

Wardley, Gateshead January 2022

All pictures embiggenable with a click.

Stay tooned for next time, Sophie is home from Spain and we’ll be doing our outings again.

📷 😊

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!

📷 😊

Northumberland Zoo ~ October 2021 ~ part 1

I’ve been to this zoo a couple of times before, once with Sophie back in 2017 when it had only been been open 2 years, and then in 2019 with a couple of my grandkids.

Since then the zoo has expanded and now has two Arctic Foxes, and even more exciting, 2 snow leopards. They had to be visited of course, (cats R us 😊) so off Sophie and I went.

Firstly we stopped to see the Black Tailed Prairie Dogs which are also new to us. They are herbivorous burrowing rodents native to the grasslands of North America. They look quite cute and comical for big rats!

Black Tailed Praire Dogs

Next are the Meerkats, small Mongooses, (or should that be Mongeese? Not sure, anyway, Mongoose plural) found in southern Africa. 

Meerkat

The aviary is the next stop, and whilst caged birds hurt my soul, they have some beauties here.

Blue & Gold Macaw. Being shy.
African Grey Parrot

I’d photographed the owls etc previously so didn’t spend much time there. We went off to see the ring tailed lemurs but came across the Raccoon section first. Native to North America they are so cute!

Raccoon

The ringtailed lemurs are great to visit as you are allowed to walk through their space. They don’t attack people (which is good of them I think) and they gambol about swinging from trees and generally have a high old time.

ring tailed lemur having a rest
king of the swingers.

Another ratty beasty is a giant rodent from South America called Capybara, they’re semi-aquatic which means they spend a lot of time in water, they even mate under-water. That sounds fun! 😀

Atten_shun!

The giant tortoises were amazing to see, they look quite pre-historic. The one at the top is a Sulcata tortoise, also known as African Spurred Tortoises, they can grow to be one of the largest reptiles, weighing in at over 90 kilos. The one at the bottom is a Leopard tortoise and they can live to be over 100 years and weigh up to 55 kilos. They are named for their distinctive yellow colouration with black spots, similar to a leopard. Hmm, can’t really see it myself. I didn’t think of leopards when I saw them anyway.

Sulcata and Leopard troughing.

That will do for this time, stay tooned though for next week when we get to the big cats and doggies.

📷 😊

Wallington Hall Estate ~ Oct 2020 ~ part 2

There are a few ponds/lakes nestled in the woodlands of the estate, and our favourite is the one with the boathouse.

boathouse pond.

As always, there are ducks.

quacks

The glass house is set in a formal garden so we had a wander around there first.

It was nice to see some flowers still going strong.

flower pot

The glass house is on a tier above the garden

glass house

and there’s a nice view when you get up there.

England’s green and pleasant land.

Inside the glass house there were plenty of blooms and leaves,

fuchsia magellanica white & pink
fuchsia magellanica pink & purple
chinese-lantern (abutilon pictum)
lotsa leaves

The glass house is being propped up with wooden buttresses as it’s very old and rickety, hopefully the National Trust will spend a few bob to repair it. You can just see them through the window here.

window scenery

Our last stop was at the bird hide, where we were excited to see a couple of deer, though I couldn’t get the head of the deer at the back.

2 deer.

And of course took some photo’s of birds

Blue tit
coal tit
robin

and that’s the end of our visit to Wallington in 2020.

all pictures are embiggenable by clickeration.

A few more pictures can be found HERE

Wallington Hall Estate ~ October 2021

Sophie and I go to Wallington Hall quite often, the grounds are extensive and there’s always lots to point a camera at. I’ve done a few blog posts from there, in 2018 and 19, but missed 20 for obvious reasons.

You can click on the little arrow below to read the history bit if you are interested and it will expand for you. If you are a philistine however, you can just look at the pictures 🤣.

Wallington is a country house and gardens located about 12 miles west of Morpeth, Northumberland, England, near the village of Cambo. It has been owned by the National Trust since 1942 after it was donated complete with the estate and farms by Sir Charles Philips Trevelyan, the first donation of its kind. It is a Grade I listed building. The estate was originally owned by the Fenwick family back in 1475. The Fenwick Baronetcy, of Fenwick in the County of Northumberland, was a title in the Baronetage of England. It was created on 9 June 1628 for Sir John Fenwick, of Wallington Hall, Northumberland. He sat as Member of Parliament for Northumberland and Cockermouth. The second and third Baronets also represented Northumberland in Parliament. The title became extinct when the third Baronet was executed for treason on 27 January 1697. The third Baronet, also a Sir John, was a Jacobite conspirator. I’m not going into Jacobitism here as it’s a very diverse and quite complicated political movement but basically a whole bunch of Brits aimed to restore the House of Stuart to the thrones of England, Scotland, and Ireland. You can google it for further info. Back to Sir John. He had succeeded his father to become an MP, and also later got to be a Major General in the army in 1688. He was a strong supporter of King James 2nd, the last Roman Catholic King of England, who was deposed in what was called the Glorious Revolution in 1688, and succeeded by William 3rd, or William of Orange, as he was known, a staunch Protestant. Our Sir John remained in England when William came to the throne, but had money troubles which led him to sell Wallington Hall to the Blackett family. Then Sir John decided to plot against William, insulted Williams Missis, Queen Mary, and was involved in a couple of assassination attempts on William. Eventually he was nabbed, and was beheaded in London on 28 January 1697. So on to the Blacketts. Also given a Baronetcy, they were a wealthy Newcastle family of mine owners and shipping magnates. They shared the Fenwick’s love of parties and Jacobite sympathies, but the Blacketts managed to avoid both financial ruin and treasonable activities. Sir William Blackett (1657-1705) bought Wallington in 1688 as a country retreat from the family’s main home at Anderson place in Newcastle, and knocked down the medieval house and pele tower that the Fenwicks had built, though he converted the ground floor into cellars, which still remain. The new building was quite basic, it consisted of four ranges built around an open central courtyard. The upper floor was reached by ladders and had no internal dividing walls. It wasn’t meant to be a permanent home, but a residence for when the family wanted to have shooting parties for their poshknob pals. The Fenwicks had also been known for their parties and hospitality, and the Blacketts followed the tradition. Sir William’s son took it to excess and employed six men simply to carry him and his drunken guests to bed after their grand parties. Upon his death he left debts of £77,000 and an illegitimate daughter, Elizabeth Ord. Wallington passed to his nephew Walter Calverley on condition that Walter married Elizabeth and adopted the family name. Walter agreed to this and in 1728 Wallington passed to the 21-year-old Sir Walter Calverley Blackett (1707-77). Surprisingly, and fortunately Sir Walter proved a better household manager than his uncle had. He had the house completely remodeled, adding staircases and partitioning the upper floor into rooms. The gardens and grounds were extensively redesigned with the introduction of pleasure grounds, the planting of many trees, and the digging of watercourses and ponds. Sir Walter also built the clock tower which dominates Wallington’s courtyard. Amongst the many figures involved in the recreation of Wallington was Capability Brown who may have contributed to the work in the East and West Woods and was certainly responsible for designing the pleasure grounds at Rothley Lake. Sir Walter’s children died before him, so Wallington passed to his sister’s son: Sir John Trevelyan. The Trevelyans were Baronets as well, and Wallington stayed in their family until 1942. The family includes authors, artists, MP’s and their history is far too long for a little blog post, but also quite fascinating. Sir Charles, the 3rd Baronet was the last to live there. He was first a Liberal and later a Labour MP. He served under H. H. Asquith as Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education between 1908 and 1914, when, as an opponent of British entry into the First World War, he resigned from the government. In 1914, also, he founded the Union of Democratic Control an all-party organisation rallying opposition to the war. In the 1918 general election, he lost his Elland seat, running as an Independent Labour candidate, but won Newcastle Central for Labour in 1922 and held it until 1931. In early 1939, following Stafford Cripps and with Aneurin Bevan among others, Trevelyan was briefly expelled from the Labour Party for persisting with support for a “popular front” (involving co-operation with the Liberal Party and Communist Party) against the National Government. He was the last surviving member of the first British Labour cabinet. He had 6 kids, the eldest being Sir George, the 4th Baronet. He was effectively disinherited when his Dad gave Wallington to the National Trust. In 1925, George went to read history at Trinity College, Cambridge, in accordance with family tradition. Whilst there he began his 42-year-long association with the famous ‘Trevelyan Man Hunt’, an extraordinary annual event which involved a chase on foot over the wild Lakeland fells, with human ‘hunters’ hunting after human ‘hares’. This energetic event was started in 1898 by Trevelyan’s historian uncle G. M. Trevelyan and the Wynthrop Youngs, and still continues today, as a kind of hide and seek game without dogs or weapons. He also became an educational pioneer and a founding father of the New Age Movement. Not sure why Dad didn’t pass on the Hall to George, perhaps George was just too busy to look after the place, another fascinating chap.

After morning rain it turned out to be a lovely Autumnal day, the sun was mostly out and the sky that wintery pallid blue that contrasts so nicely with the greens and oranges of the landscape. We didn’t bother with the hall this time, but instead headed for the lake and the glass house.

Love these Japanese katsura trees, beautiful colours in autumn and their heart shaped leaves.

♥️ katsura leaves

On the way we walked through woodlands and I got a couple more shots for my mushroom collection.

possibly Piptoporus betulinus, Birch Polypore or Razor Strop Fungus
probably Artist’s Conk (Ganoderma applanatum) also at the top on the right Velvet Shank (Flammulina velutipes)
Woodland Inkcap, (Coprinellus silvaticus.)

Always weird to see butterflies in October, this one was on it’s last days I think, missing an antenna thingy and looking a bit ragged

Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)
small tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae)

and still quite a few flowers about too, with stupid names.

Black Eyed Susan (rudbeckia fulgida)
Kiss-me-over-the- garden-gate 🙄 (persicaria orientalis)
no idea about this one!

So that will do for this time round, we’ll get to the lake and the glass house next time so stay tooned!

📷 😊