Durham University Botanical Gardens~ May 2018

At the beginning of May, Sophie and I went off to the Botanical Gardens at Durham University.  I can’t say Durham is my favourite place to drive through (which you have to do to get to the gardens) as it’s olde worlde charm rapidly disappears when you have to navigate traffic bottlenecks on tiny roads on busy days. But we got to the gardens without too much stress and we were lucky enough to have a sunny day.  There’s a large carpark near to the back entrance and a notice in it telling visitors to the gardens that the car park is free if they give their registration number to the garden’s pay desk, which I did. It cost £4 to get into the gardens.

The gardens are set in 10 hectares (which is 25 acres, not sure about feet/meters etc 🙂 ) of mature woodlands, and was opened by Dame Margot Fonteyn for reasons unbeknownst to me in 1970. I would have gone for Alan Titchmarsh meself 😀

After we paid our entrance fee we started out surrounded by magnificent tulips, they looked glorious in the sunshine.


loved the serrated edges on these next ones


and the blobs of purple  on these


the first bit we visited was a big greenhouse thingy (called a glasshouse I believe) where they had exotic plants, cactii or cactuses (whatever) and the place was hot and humid. There was a button you could press that made a fine mist cover everything and everyone, which I pressed a couple of times soaking the family who was ahead of us while I hid behind a cheeseplant 😀  (note to self- grow up!).

prickle plants







There was also a  pond in the glass house which was full of fish.



Nice with chips 🙂


There was another pond with a huge lily pad on it, but sadly no lilies were out yet


It did have a crocodile head in it though so that was the consolation prize.

See you later…

There were some lovely orchids in the glasshouse too



Other alien


This little chap was in a glasshouse all on his own



but he had plenty to eat…

Sunday Lunch 😀

That’ll do for today, but stay tooned for when we visit the grounds and have a wander about.

all pictures can be embiggened by the flick of click 🙂


Teeside Nature Reserve~July 2017~part 2

part 1 HERE

The nature reserve has, as you’d expect, a fair amount of wild flowers.

The reserve is home to 4 different types of marsh orchids, but I only spotted 3

the burnet moths were quite fond of them

always there are dandelions

and buttercups

and pink grassy stuff

and finally some poppies

the nature reserve is right on the coast, so next time we’ll have a look round there.

Stay tooned!

Fraggle Report~Hardwick Hall Country Park~June 2017~part 1

The History bit

Hardwick Hall Country park is on land that was originally, in medieval times next to Hardwyck Manor, now Hardwick Hall Country Hotel. The 18th century saw dramatic change: a new hall was built, and a new owner—a wealthy businessman from Tyneside named John Burdon—began to develop the grounds. Burdon enhanced the 17-acre ornamental lake on the south side of the hall by adding an artificial river leading to it and encircling it with a walkway. In all, he laid out 40 acres of additional ornamental features, including temples, grottoes and follies designed primarily by London architect James Paine. Although the grounds and buildings were not subsequently well maintained, the garden retains Pain’s basic structure and is an unusual example of authentic 18th century landscape design.

Durham County Council had already begun to acquire parts of the grounds when in 1997 it determined to undertake the preservation of the whole park. A study commissioned in 1999 provided a detailed estimate of the expenses of restoration and also indicated the property’s significance, leading the Register of Parks and Gardens to give it a II* rating. With assistance from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the County purchased more of the grounds in 2001 and launched a restoration scheme to bring it all back to its former condition. The park now includes a visitor centre, cafe, toilets, exhibition, classroom and office.

Sophie and I came here for the afternoon once we’d finished at the Pumping station, we needed somewhere to lunch and this was nearest. Turned out a really lovely place to walk around, so we stayed for the afternoon.

Tree of fungus in the car park


Neptune, fishing 🙂


Not sure why they call this a Black-headed gull when it’s obviously brown.


ornate seating area


common orchid








a folly 



Day 209~366

Orchids are not the easiest of things to grow apparently, but for a couple of years I had 4 plants of varying colours on my front windowsill, that bloomed regularly and lasted for ages when they did, with the minimum of interference from me. A bit of water now and then, a bit of orchid food now and then, and they were a happy little bunch. Then Storm & Skye came, and Storm, well, she was ill though we did not know it when we got her, and part of her illness made her eat strange things, like LP covers, knife handles, cat litter, paper, and orchid roots. So I moved my orchids upstairs, where the blooms eventually fell, and since then, never returned. After she died, I moved them back to the window ledge, and there they sit, watered, fed, but without their beautiful flowers. It’s been 7 months since Storm went and I keep hoping.  Today I was in the supermarket and saw some Orchids at ridiculously low prices, so I bought one, in the hopes it will encourage the others, (OK that didn’t sound bonkers in my head at the time) and this evening when the sun came out and went down in the space of 10 minutes, it’s shadow was quite glorious.



Day 3~366

I’m having a busy Sunday. Phil is at work til 9pm so I’ve been up and at’em. I was at the supermarket by 10am, finished off my expenses form, sorted work out for tomorrow, painted another backdrop for my photography, played with Skye and the laser light, and done my photo for the day. Just the Christmas decorations to take down now, and make some soup for my dinner. I’ll put my feet up and watch a movie after that I think!

day 3w




The Wetlands Reports~part 2

Some more shots from our walk around the wetlands. It’s a lovely place to go, they do a lot of conservation of endangered species, and have a good cafe too!

The Bat Tree
The Bat Tree

As we walked through the woodlands, a herd of geese came charging at us, the parents being very protective and the babies wanting seeds.

Charge of the geese brigade
Charge of the geese brigade
A herd
A herd

Cal was a little spooked as they came charging towards us but we got the seed out and that calmed everything down.

feed the geese, tuppence a bag (actually 3 bags for a quid).
feed the geese, tuppence a bag (actually 3 bags for a quid).
we three
we three

moving on we came to a pond with a single swan on it

little lake
little lake

and walked past a field of common spotted orchids


and then we met The Pheasants,

Mr Pheasant
Mr Pheasant
seed for Mrs.Pheasant
seed for Mrs.Pheasant

and then it was time for another rest. 🙂

I need a  rest
I need a rest

I love days out like this one was, still more to come, but that’s it for now.

laters gaters