Wednesday, 16 May 2018


During this season of blossom and renewal I am reminded of the words used by A.E. Housman in A Shropshire Lad, written as a young man of twenty at a time when seventy was considered to be good.
"Now, of my threescore years and ten,
Twenty will not come again,
And take from seventy springs a score,
It only leaves me fifty more.

And since to look at things in bloom
Fifty springs are little room".

These thoughts are a gentle reminder of how time is of the essence and every moment so precious.
The weather has been perfect, and we have been making the most of it following what felt like a very long confinement during the winter months.
A visit to Buscot Park for a stroll along the water rill designed by Harold Peto for Lord Faringdon at the beginning of the c20th was our choice of destination. There was plenty of welcome dappled shade beneath the canopy of fresh green growth on the trees.

Buscot is surrounded by parkland, a formal walled garden, and has many magnificent vistas.

The steps leading down to the water rill and the lake beyond always pleases and provides a source of anticipation.

Having now reached the lake, I also discovered when back at home, that it was also the end of the line as far as using the computer was concerned. I could not finish this post or export photos - was it blogger or the computer?

Previously I have solved problems sometimes with wise advice from eldest son, but I was finding things far too complicated to solve via a long distance phone call. Everything I tried led me down a different dark pathway with no light at the end. The machine was taken away, and has only just now returned. It appears that my Apple Mac is not the junior I thought it was but is really past it's retirement date. Obsolescence is built into them from the minute you bring them home. I am not sure how things stand at the moment as problems are still being encountered. I may be absent for some time during the foreseeable future.

Sunday, 6 May 2018

A Promise Fulfilled

On Friday morning I saw a swallow - was that a good omen? But then I recall Aristotle said 'one swallow doth not a summer make'. 
The spring weather has been mercurial, however, there's nothing I can do to change it. I have made a promise to show some English bluebells to a blogger? one who has travelled all the way from Australia - everything should be well as long as it doesn't rain.
 The Bluebell is the sweetest flower
 That waves in summer air; 
Its blossoms have the mightiest power 
To soothe my spirit's care....Emily Brontë 
Once you know what to look for it is easy to recognise a British bluebell from the rather ubiquitous Spanish ones, which are a hug threat to our native bells.
As British bluebells mature their stems become distinctly blue and droop to one side from the top, Spanish ones stand upright and are green. Our bluebells are a rich blue, Spanish ones are a paler shade of blue. British bells have cream stamens, Spanish ones are blue. The bells on the British flowers are long and narrow and softly curl at the their ends. Spanish ones have wide open bells which do not curl. The problem arises when Spanish bells, which happen to be much more vigorous, hybridise with ours. Hybridised bell flowers contain a mixture of both bells making them difficult to identify and they are even more vigorous than the Spanish ones.
I feel passionate about protecting our bluebell woods from the Spanish threat, once they are gone, they will be lost forever.
Let's continue through the wood and see a bit more blue magic.
Bluebells are mainly found in broadleaved woodlands. The trees newly emerging leaves create the perfect dappled shade that bluebells love without preventing the sunlight from filtering through.
Bluebells are a good indicator that you are walking in ancient woodland 
That's mission accomplished without any rain. The weather is so topsy turvy - now we have a heatwave!
Here's Wendy a happy blogger. 
We spent a really lovely day together.

Thursday, 3 May 2018

Friday 4th May

I made a promise for tomorrrow, but I need a good bright day in order to fulfil it. I am keeping all of my fingers crossed and will let you know the outcome within the next few days.
Today is perfect, here's hoping it continues, but in the meantime enjoy some blossom from our garden.

Lots of wild flowers growing in our garden including some pretty yellow cowslips - one of which appears to have hybridised and turned from yellow into red!

Saturday, 28 April 2018

Lucienne Day - Textile Designer

Lucienne Day was born in 1917 and became one of the most influential British textile designers of the 1950s and 60s. She drew inspiration from other arts and developed a new style of abstract pattern known as 'Contemporary' design. In the year of the millenium, at the grand age of 83 she offically retired.
Lucienne Day photographed with her new pioneering 'contemporary' fabric design, "Calyx", which was shown for the first time at the Festival of Britain in 1951.

She met and married Robin Day, an already up and coming successful furniture designer. They both studied at the Royal College of Art where they met at a college dance. They immediately recognised in each other a kindred spirit and became inseparable. They were married for almost 70 years, and both died within months of one other in 2010 - Robin was 95, Lucienne 93. Together they forged an influential design partnership which lasted for over six decades.
Black leaf - tea towel
Lucienne designed patterns for furnishings, dress fabrics, table linen, carpets, wallpapers and ceramics. 
 Her designs are still being produced today demonstrating the continuing vitality of her design legacy.
Lucienne's designs brought joy and colour into domestic homes following the austerity of the war years.

I can think of several current designers, printmakers, and illustrators who appear to have been inspired by Lucienne. Amusingly what I think of as contemporary, the younger generation consider 'vintage'. They have rediscovered her designs and appear to love them.
Jack Sprat - tea towel
In later life she began making individual silk mosaics. She is pictured here with her silk mosaic 'Three Daughters of Mexico' which she made for the Senior Common Room at the Royal College of Art, and where she celebrated her 90th birthday with many old friends from the design world. 

Sunday, 22 April 2018

Castell Powis

A medieval Welsh castle sitting high above garden terraces created in an Italianate style could be considered strange bedfellows, but together they produce a scene of perfect harmony.
As we made our way up the long driveway, the sun was just minutes away from breaking through the early morning mist.  
The castle was begun in 1283 by a Welsh Prince, Gruffydd ap Gwenwynwyn. He was given permission to built the fortress for his loyalty to Edward l during the Welsh Wars which ended in 1282.

Three hundred years later in 1587 the Herbert family purchased the castle and then spent more than 400 years transforming it into the comfortable home seen today. There are no images allowed inside, but it is furnished sumptuously with fabrics and exquisite works of art from around the world reflecting the Elizabethan to the Edwardian periods. It houses the largest private collection of Indian treasures accumulated by:-
The centre piece of the collection is an exquisite gold bejewelled tiger's head finial from the throne of Tipu, Sultan of Mysore, set with diamonds, rubies, emeralds, and saphires. 
courtesy Wiki
"I would rather live two days like a tiger than 200 years like a  sheep" - Tipu, Sultan of Mysore
In 1784, Lord Powis’s daughter, Lady Henrietta Herbert, married Edward Clive,  the eldest son of Clive of India. Their marriage led to the union of the Clive and Powis estates. 

'No Percy, not that way'.....'The hens are behind you, they're hiding in the bushes'!!! 

Lysichiton americanus - yellow skunk cabbage - I tried to grow this years ago, but our pond has paved edges and is far too dry.

A male pheasant dressed in his finest Spring colours.

The southern side of Castell Powis showing the Italianate terraces.

 Clematis armandii 'Apple Blossom'
As we returned back to our hotel along the narrow, twisty, country roads, we suddenly realised that we were travelling through the tiny hamlet of Tregynon, a place known to us from many years ago. We couldn't resist the opportunity to visit a property we used to know well called Gregynog Hall, a place where we have stayed many times. We decided to visit it for old times sake, and see whether it still looked just as we remembered it. The hall was left to the University of Wales in 1960 along with some of its treasures by Gwendoline and Margaret Davis, the granddaughters, of David Davis, who made a huge fortune during the industrialisation of Victorian Wales. 
Over the past 50+ years it served as a Welsh cultural resource within the University. However, recently, and with institutional changes within the current setup of the University of Wales, we can only assume that it had become an increasing financial burden, and as a result it has now been made into an independent charitable trust. 
The maiden sisters, Gwendoline and Margaret, bought the hall in 1920, and it may surprise you to learn that it is not a Tudor building but one of the earliest large-scale domestic British buildings made from concrete over 175 years ago. If you are interested to know more about the sisters and their wonderful treasures, which are now housed in the 'Davis Sisters Collection' at the National Museum of Wales, Cardiff, there is a further post that I wrote here several years ago.

Friday, 20 April 2018

Fritillaria meleagris

I always look forward to the arrival of the delightful Snakeshead fritillaries in our garden where they can now be seen in great abundance. Knowing how rarely they are seen in the wild these days makes me feel particularly protective of this precious lily. Checking on them today revealled four naughty red lily beetles who had already sought them out, but they were promptly vanquished. In a matter of days four could become many and then they would all start descending on my newly emerging summer lilies. I had thought that the cold winter might have killed the beetle's lavae, but I was mistaken.
The pretty Erythroniums have also arrived on the scene in yellow, white, and pink, they too are members of the lily family - this one is called pagoda, but luckily they are not preyed on by the lily beetle
Judging by the blossom I am anticipating making delicious plum jam, plum pies, and plum crumble during the fruiting season.