Belsay Hall & Castle ~ October 2021 ~ part 2

We leave Belsay Hall and start off to get to the quarry, but first we’ll have a look in the formal gardens of the Hall. The temperatures were milder than usual in October and November, and so butterflies were still about, which surprised us.

small tortoiseshell and buddlea
large white
red admiral

Still some flowers budding and blooming too.

japanese anemone
sevenbark (Hydrangea aborescens L.)

and some buggy things


There’s a manicured lawn within a walled garden

walled garden

And then on out to the path that leads you on to the quarry, through gorgeous autumn colours.

Katsura japonicum.
Katsura leaves.

Next time we’ll get to the exotic quarry walk so stay tooned!

Wynyard Gardens – October 2019 – part 2

Part 1 HERE

On the way back through the woods, we came across a few interesting bits and bobs.

Not sure what it is, a wooden castle?
fairy tree
I loved this handbag bird home
View through the woods to the hall
another owl
maybe magpie?

lots of mushrooms everywhere

We got back to the formal gardens, no roses as it was late in the year, but a few bits of autumn colour.


For more pictures there’s a full album HERE

Sophie and I hoped to return here in spring and see the rose garden, but as the corona virus is taking hold in the country now as I write, I’m not sure if that will happen.

Stay tooned though, still some more adventures to do!

Wynyard Gardens ~ October 2019

Sophie and I decided to visit Wynyard Gardens even though the flower season was over, we thought we’d do a recce and return in spring if we thought it worthwhile.

The gardens are part of the Wynyard Hall estate, currently owned by Sir John Hall, a North East property developer ( and life president of Newcastle United Football Club). We only saw the hall from a distance as it is a very nice hotel now, but the gardens are open to the public all year round.

The history bit . ( Cup of tea time šŸ™‚ )

We’ll begin by having a look at Charles William Vane, 3rd Marquess of Londonderry. He was born Charles William Stewart in 1778 and was an Irish soldier in the British army, a politician, and a nobleman. As a soldier he fought in the French Revolutionary Wars, in the suppression of the Irish Rebellion of 1798 and in the Napoleonic Wars. He was adjutant general to Sir Arthur Wellesley (later the Duke of Wellington) who sacked him in spite of his valour and generally excellent soldiery, as he judged him a “sad brouillon (French for being a knob) and mischief-maker” among his staff. After Charles had finished with all the fighting stuff, his half-brother, Lord Castlereagh (the 2nd Marquess) helped him get into a diplomatic career. He went off to Berlin in 1813, then went off to be the Ambassador to Austria where Lord Castlereagh was the head honcho on behalf of the British Gov’t at the Congress of Vienna. There our Charlie proved his knobbishness with his loutish behaviour, was apparently rather often inebriated, and frequented prostitutes quite openly. He earned himself the nickname of Lord Pumpernickel after a loutish character in a play in fashion.

In 1804 Charlie had married Lady Catherine Bligh, who died in Ireland in 1812, but he found another Missis, Lady Frances Anne Vane, a rich heiress, whom he married in 1819. WTF she saw in him is beyond me but hey ho, different times folks. He changed his surname to hers, and became Charles William Vane, under Royal Licence, as her father had stipulated in his will.

In 1822, his half bro Lord Castlereigh started suffering from paranoia and mental instability, he was possibly affected by syphillis, and possibly being blackmailed for homosexuality, although that may just have been the paranoia talking, either way he wasn’t in a good place, and although friends and family were vigilant, he managed to find a small knife and cut his own throat.

This left Charles to be the 3rd Marquess, and he didn’t do himself any favours during the Irish Famine of 1840 when he and his wife gave only Ā£30 to the local relief committee but spent Ā£150,000 (Ā£13.6Ā million as of 2020) renovatingĀ  Mount Stewart their Irish home. Also he led the opposition to the Mines & Colliery act of 1842 in the House of Lords. He is reported to have raged madly against any attempt to deny the collieries the use of child labour. Speaking on behalf of the Yorkshire Coal-Owners Association, Londonderry said “With respect to the age at which males should be admitted into mines, the members of this association have unanimously agreed to fix it at eight years… In the thin coal mines it is more especially requisite that boys, varying in age from eight to fourteen, should be employed; as the underground roads could not be made of sufficient height for taller persons without incurring an outlay so great as to render the working of such mines unprofitable”.

Once married into the Vane family, he used their immense wealth to acquire the Seaham Hall estate in County Durham with a view to developing the coalfields there. He also built the harbour at Seaham, to rival nearby Sunderland. He commissioned Benjamin Wyatt to build the Hall at Wynyard, and it started in 1822 and in 1828 was completed by Ben’s brother Philip Wyatt. Charlie spent Ā£130,000 on it, (Ā£11,824,000 in todays money) and just as it was completed a fire broke out and gutted it!

It was later restored and remodelled by the wonderfully named Ignatius Bonomi. The estate remained in the Londonderry family right up until 1987, though had been let out as a training school for teachers between 1945 and 1960. During this time it lost most of its original contents through sales and breakages.

1987 is when Sir John Hall bought it spending Ā£4,000,000 to restore the house, and hiring Rupert Lord to oversee the restoration . He later moved his company headquarters, as well as his home, into the mansion. The estate, comprising the house and 780 acres of parkland, was listed for sale in July 2002 for Ā£8,000,000. It is now a four-star hotel owned by the Hall family, continuing to occupy a small portion of land.

Garden designer, William Sawrey Gilpin created the initial gardens when the house was first built and instilled gently curved flowerbeds, raised terrace walks, irregularly shaped shrubberies and winding paths to create beautiful images within the landscape. In 1912 Lady Theresa Londonderry recreated the gardens, and kept a garden album which records in great detail the series of gardens she transformed. She created a series of ornamental gardens, including a rose garden, a lily garden, a thyme walk and a herbaceous broad walk, 270 yards long, bounded by a high yew hedge. A wild garden presented a range of shrubs, plants and bulbs in a natural setting, with grass paths, known as ā€˜the garden riverā€™. 

At the turn of the 20th century, visitors flocked to the gardens, which were open to the public three days a week for a considerable part of the year however they closed shortly before the war. In 1987, as well as embarking on major restoration work in the house, Sir John Hall turned his attention to the grounds. Consultants suggested the restoration of the Walled Garden and Italianate Gardens, plans which are now coming to fruition.

refs:-,_County_Durham .,_3rd_Marquess_of_Londonderry

Well done if you didn’t give up and skip to the pictures!

We decided to do the woodland walk first. It was a beautiful crisp autumn day, the sky was blue, the sun was out, our favourite time of year.

Japanese Maple

We went down the stairs to get to the woodland walk,

there are some beautiful trees along the way

We came to a little folly, and two little girls ran in to it while I was photographing it

noisy girls & folly

I do like monkey puzzle trees

king of the swingers

We came across a little bridge where you could stand and look at the river, Brierly Beck, and I liked the two eagle type statues either side of it

guardian of the Beck

a bit further on we came to what we assumed was an area for kiddies

play area

so many patches of mushrooms along the way


it’s a circular walk and at the point of turning you get to the Hall, which Sophie and I named Riverrun.

Wynyard Hall

you can see an obelisk in the background which was put up to commemorate the Duke of Wellington when he came to visit Charles Vane and was inscribed WELLINGTON FRIEND OF LONDONDERRY, but the Duke didn’t give Charles a place in the government’s cabinet so in 1828 it was altered to ‘WELLINGTON”.

Stay tooned for the return journey and the cultivated gardens.

Day 317~366

I have a weekend home alone, as Phil is off to a scale model show in Telford, not back until Sunday night, and I have to cat~sit. Really the cat is doing the sitting, on my trackpad so that I can’t be on the computer, but she didn’t realise I have an emergency mouse, so on we go šŸ™‚


The weather, always with the weather, has been dull, has been raining and cold, so no going out with the camera, but I gathered some fallen leaves from the front garden and did my autumn in a crystal ball shot.


This evening I’m having a chinese take away and going to find a movie or some trash TV to watch. Ā I’ll brush the cat, (she loves being brushed) and have a glass or 2 of my favourite wine. Ā I will sleep in a star shape and not get up in the morning if it’s still raining.



Day 279~366

It was a lovely sunny afternoon, though ever so windy and a bit chilly. Frego and I went on a bit of a hike to the old forbidden lake and took some pictures.

Stopped to admire the red berry bushes on the way

these are berry red.

then found the lake had dried up a bit when we got to the spot where I’d taken shots before,

hmm, not loving the mud

So we went to the other side to try and get a better view, though we would then be looking into the sun.

Isn't it a lovely day?
Isn’t it a lovely day?

shot of the day
shot of the day

It was nice to be out and about in the sun šŸ™‚

Day 277~366

A good thing about summer ending~sunrise is later! Lovely misty one today. Ā Got up early withĀ Frego and watched it come up over the houses.


‘I am one who eats his breakfast, gazing at morning glories’. Basho

The Fraggle report ~ Eindhoven part 2

Part 1

On the morning of the model show, after I’d had a quick shufty around and taken some shots of the models,Ā I went for a walk with my camera in the surrounding woodlands whileĀ Phil perused the models and did some shopping and chatted on with his fellow modeller friends. It was a bright crisp day so nice to catch some sunlight in the autumn leaves. Lots of goodies to see and record.



There were some industrial buildings nearby the hotel, but not sure what kind of industry.


wooden posts lining the pathway..



and lots of leaves everywhere..




car cover
car cover



and a bumper crop of mushrooms..






I found a woodland hut..


and a woodpile


and a bench to sit on


and another path to follow


the light through the leaves was lovely



then I came across a different type of forest







firemans pipeĀ 

Next time I’ll show some of the models, and the journey home, but that’s enough pretty pictures for this post. Back to work tomorrow, isn’t it horrid going back after a holiday?!

laters gaters


The Howick Hall Gardens report ~ part 3

Part 1Ā and Part 2

I’m back from Holland, and of course have come home with more photo’s to get through, so am finishing off my report on Howick Gardens so I’m not too behind.

After finding the ginormous leaves, we walked along the riverside to have a look at the church in the grounds.

Sluice gates on the river,
Sluice gates on the river,

fruits of the Big Leaves
fruit of the GinormousĀ Leaves

Bridge to the church
Bridge to the church

The church is a victorian building, and houses the tomb ofĀ the Prime Minister, 2nd Earl Grey, but other than that the interior was a bit boring to be honest. Outside was more interesting,


church door
church door

heads up
heads up

The small stone gargoyles on the exterior of the north wall were all carved by Maria, 3rd Countess Grey, who was a good amateur artist, but sadly she never got round to doing the south side.

Children didn’t always live too long in this era..


Lilian, aged 2, & Sylvia, born and died on the same day.

Lots of leaves to be found with rain drops decorating them..





and some really fine spidey webs..



After Church we went back to the Hall for lunch in the Earl Grey Tea House, which was beautiful

The Earl Grey Tea House

I had a rather lush duck & orange pate on toast …


And then back outside to walk it off and take a few more shots before going home.


eyeballing the competition


another big leaf
another big leaf

lost feather
lost feather






those were all taken with the Fuji XT1 using the 60mm macro lens (much maligned in the Fuji owners world!) and my 18-55mm zoom. But of course I always take the iPhone along and these next few are from the phone.

The Hall
The Hall

Sophie on a bridge
Sophie on a bridge

odd one out
odd one out




pink hearts



and that was the end of our day out.

Now to sort out my next lot of photo’s,

laters gaters





The Howick Hall Gardens report ~part 2

Thought I’d crack on with this as I’m off to Holland tomorrow and won’t get chance to post for a few days unless I can figure out how to do it on the iPad.

Part 1 and the history bit are HEREĀ so this is basically just more pictures of dead flowers šŸ˜€ (I jest). After the Bog Garden we wandered around the rest of theĀ gardens to the back of the Hall

gate detail
gate detail

dead flower :)
dead flower šŸ™‚

avenue of pots
avenue of pots





A lot of the grass had purple and white crocuses growing through which we thought really strange as they usually appear in spring, however it turns out they are autumn crocuses, colchicums no less,Ā ItsĀ leaves,Ā cormĀ andĀ seedsĀ areĀ poisonous. MurderessĀ Catherine WilsonĀ is thought to have used it to poison a number of victims in the 19th century.

Howick Hall
Howick Hall

You can see why I didn’t shoot many pictures with the sky included. I suppose I could replace it in potatoshop, but it belongs to the day, so there it stays.


lots of poison
lots of poison

Autumn foliage now..






could have done with just a bit of sun though!

We came across some ginormous leaves..



and even more ginormous leaves..


Sophie took one of me holding a leaf so you can see how big they are

me & ginormous leaves
me & ginormous leaves (courtesy of Sophie Cormack)

I have hamster cheeks!!! Where did THEY come from!!??

Well, that’ll do for now, back to the packing, have a fab weekend wordypeeps

laters gaters